“When you trail, your starting pitcher has to step up and subdue the opposition and give us a chance to get back in the game,” manager Jim Tracy said. “Once he got the lead, you saw a face of a guy that said, ‘That’s it.”’
The Rockies have scored 38 runs in their first four-game winning streak of the year and are 6-4 under Tracy after going 18-28 under Clint Hurdle. They’ve beaten the Cardinals five straight times, evening the all-time series at 73-73.
Albert Pujols(notes) had a rare two-run sacrifice fly in the first inning for the Cardinals, who have totaled three runs and nine hits in the last two games. Joel Pineiro(notes) (5-6) allowed three runs and 10 hits, all singles, in five innings after skipping a start due to back spasms.
“I got singled to death,” Pineiro said. “One of those days that a lot of balls found the holes. Not much you can do.”
The Cardinals have lost seven of 10 and scored three or fewer runs in seven of those games.
“It’s a tough time,” manager Tony La Russa said. “Just don’t throw your hands up, and whatever you do, don’t get depressed. If you want to do anything, get upset because that’s adrenaline.”
Skip Schumaker(notes) singled and Colby Rasmus(notes) doubled to open the first for St. Louis. Both runners scored when left fielder Carlos Gonzalez(notes) banged into the wall in left-center after stretching to track down Pujols’ drive. Gonzalez flipped the ball to center fielder Dexter Fowler(notes) but Rasmus scored easily from second.
Jimenez (4-6) retired 17 in a row before the next hit, a two-out double by Rasmus in the sixth. Jimenez had a season-high nine strikeouts and won for the first time in five starts since May 12 against the Astros.
Jimenez mixed his pitches better after the shaky first, frequently opening at-bats with his slider.
“He could have said ‘I throw 99, I’m going to keep throwing the fastball,”’ Phillips said. “But he didn’t do that. We were able to make the adjustment we needed to make.”
The 32-year-old Phillips is getting a chance as the backup catcher with Yorvit Torrealba(notes) on the restricted list after the kidnapping of his 11-year-old son and brother-in-law, and Chris Iannetta(notes) on the 15-day disabled list. He singled in his first three at-bats, including the go-ahead hit in the sixth for a 3-2 lead, and homered in a four-run eighth.
“Four hits is great, but if I can have my pitcher do what he needs do on a consistent basis, that’s more gratifying,” Phillips said.
Phillips had two career three-hit games before Sunday, the last one on Sept. 25, 2005, with the Royals. He has three homers in parts of six seasons, the last on Sept. 29, 2006, for the Royals at Detroit.
Two players had two-run sacrifice flies last year, Joe Mauer(notes) and A.J. Pierzynski(notes), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. No Cardinals player had one in records dating to 1960, although Tommy Herr hit one in Game 4 of the 1982 World Series at Milwaukee. … Chris Duncan(notes) is 4 for 39 against the Rockies with one RBI. … Jimenez has made eight of his 12 starts on the road. … Pineiro is 1-6 with a 4.09 ERA his last seven starts after going 4-0 with a 3.86 ERA in April. … The announced crowd of 42,288 was the Cardinals’ second straight sellout and 10th overall. … The Cardinals’ bullpen has allowed 23 earned runs in 24 innings over the first seven games of an eight-game homestand.