DENVER (AP)—The Rocktober magic returned to Coors Field at least for a night.
After managing just four hits off Adam Wainwright in seven innings, the downtrodden defenders of the NL pennant rallied against St. Louis’ brilliant bullpen to win for just the fourth time in 17 games.
“A win like this is huge for us because it’s just one of those friendly reminders that we are a good enough team to come back,” Ryan Spilborghs said. “It’s a nice reminder for us to just see that.”
And to finally be able to reminiscence over last year’s 21-1 run-up to the World Series when the Rockies could do no wrong, late rallies were the norm, clutch hitting was contagious and good pitching was rewarded.
Omar Quintanilla started the rally by singling off Kyle McClellan with one out, and Matt Holliday tripled him home. Left-hander Randy Flores came in and got Todd Helton to fly out to third before Garrett Atkins drew a walk after his high foul fell harmlessly to the dirt when first baseman Albert Pujols tried to barehand it as it drifted back into the field.
“It’s a play he should have made,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
Instead, Isringhausen (1-3) had to come in earlier than the Cardinals would have liked, and he allowed Spilborghs’ pinch-hit RBI single after fighting off a bunch of pitches. Iannetta, making his fourth straight start behind the plate in place of Yorvit Torrealba, sliced a triple into the right-field corner on the first pitch he saw, a sinker down and away.
“We’ve been really close and hopefully this pushes us over the edge and gets us going,” said Iannetta, who is hitting .353, a stark contrast to last year, when he hit just .218, earning a demotion to the minors.
Iannetta is at a loss to explain the difference.
“No, same old stuff. In all honesty, there’s no magic potion or solution or equation that’s getting me results,” Iannetta said. “Sometimes it happens in baseball, sometimes it doesn’t. I just go out there and play every day and eventually it’s going to come around.”
In the visitors’ clubhouse, Pujols, who helped St. Louis win the series opener by scoring from second base on a slow-rolling groundout, felt like the goat for misplaying Atkins’ foul ball that would have preserved St. Louis’ 3-1 lead in the eighth.
“As soon as that ball was hit, I knew it was in the stands,” Pujols said. “I tried to get there as soon as I could and hopefully get close to the wall and reach for it. The ball came back. It was a tough break.”
He also lamented all the runners he left on base.
“I had a tough night at the plate. I came back in the ninth and probably hit the hardest ball I hit in three weeks,” Pujols said. “I wanted an opportunity to make up for the mistake. This game keeps you humble. A play like that was the game.”
Ryan Speier (1-1) picked up the win with a scoreless inning of relief, and Brian Fuentes picked up his third save in five chances. He allowed a single to Skip Schumaker leading off the ninth, then retired the next three hitters, including Pujols on a line-drive to short. He struck out Ryan Ludwick to end the game.
Until the eighth, it appeared the Rockies would go quietly thanks to Wainwright’s spectacular pitching and the timely hitting of Ludwick, who homered and drove in two runs off left-hander Jeff Francis, Colorado’s “ace” who is still searching for his first win.
Working through jams all night, Francis allowed three runs, all earned, on six hits in five innings. He walked five and struck out four.
Wainwright scattered four hits over seven spectacular innings, walked two and struck out three. He found himself in trouble just once, when Brad Hawpe hit a two-out double in the fourth, putting runners at second and third. Wainwright struck out Iannetta to end the threat.
Pujols stranded seven runners by the fourth inning, grounding out with two runners on base in the first and second innings and flying out to center field in the fourth with two outs and the bases loaded, although it did take Willy Taveras’ leaping grab for the Rockies to escape that jam.
“It’s one of those games where when you’re hot, that ball is a grand slam. When you’re struggling, it’s an out,” Pujols said. “The same in the first inning. I smoked it right to the third baseman.”
Still, his single in the seventh with nobody on means Pujols has reached base in all 35 games.
RHP Alberto Arias became the 18th pitcher Colorado has used this season, tops in the National League and tied with Texas for most in the majors. … Cardinals LHP Mark Mulder’s injury rehabilitation assignment was cut short Wednesday when he was diagnosed with a mild rotator cuff strain in his left shoulder.