Cardinals-Rockies Preview

The Associated Press

The St. Louis Cardinals had their bid for sole possession of first place spoiled by the Colorado Rockies, whose game-winning rally saw a key contribution from Todd Helton in one of his final games at Coors Field.

Coming off his first loss in more than three months, it will be Joe Kelly trying to spoil Helton's farewell homestand when he takes the mound for St. Louis on Tuesday night.

The Cardinals (87-63) had a chance to break their tie with Pittsburgh for first place in the NL Central after the Pirates' 2-0 loss to San Diego on Monday, but a four-run, eighth-inning rally propelled the Rockies to a 6-2 win.

"Overall our bullpen has been very, very good,'' St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "They just need to stick with what they know is right and they will be just where they've been all season.

"They will bounce back,'' he added.

Colorado's Charlie Blackmon was 3 for 4 and Helton - in the first of his final nine home games after announcing over the weekend he would retire at the end of the season - provided a crucial single in the eighth.

"Todd had a huge hit," manager Walt Weiss said. "I don't expect anything different. I think he's going to have a huge homestand."

Kelly (8-4, 2.87 ERA) finally saw his 11-start unbeaten streak snapped Thursday, yielding four runs and seven hits over five innings of a 5-3 defeat to Milwaukee. He had gone 8-0 with a 2.10 ERA during the undefeated run, notching victories in each of the last five while recording a 1.50 ERA.

The right-hander was charged with a wild pitch in the first inning and committed two throwing errors in the second. He entered having been charged with two errors in 57 career appearances.

"It wasn't too good all around,'' said Kelly, who hadn't suffered a loss since June 5, going 16 total appearances without one. "Early in the game, they were swinging early at the fastball and getting some hits. I could have made some better pitches. They didn't hit the ball extremely hard.''

A return home seemed much needed for the Rockies (69-82), who had recently finished a 2-7 road trip. Starter Juan Nicasio (8-7, 4.58) might not enjoy being back at Coors Field, however, after yielding six runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings of an 8-3 loss to Cincinnati on Aug. 31, his last start there.

He has since compiled a 1.64 ERA in two starts without a decision.

Nicasio surrendered an unearned run and six hits in seven innings in his only career start versus St. Louis, a 15-4 victory as a rookie last May.

Kelly threw a scoreless inning of relief against Colorado in an 8-2 loss on May 12. He lost his only career start versus Colorado, giving up three runs and five hits over a six-inning start last July.

Matt Carpenter, who was 2 for 4 Monday and drove in a run, is batting .381 over his last 22 games with 22 runs scored.

Matt Holliday had been batting .374 in his first 26 meetings with his former club before going 0 for 8 in the last two.