St. Louis (90-65) at Colorado (87-68)

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Temp: 30° F
  • Game info: 3:10 pm EDT Sun Sep 27, 2009
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The St. Louis Cardinals are going to the postseason after securing their sixth NL Central title since 2000, but the Colorado Rockies’ chances of joining them are looking more precarious by the day.

The teams’ decisive series finale Sunday will certainly mean more to the Rockies, whose lead in the NL wild card is slipping with barely a week left in the season.

It was a few days after their first chance that the Cardinals finally clinched the division crown, but their 6-3 win in Denver on Saturday eliminated the second-place Chicago Cubs and prompted a celebration on the Coors Field diamond.

The victory may have been especially meaningful for Matt Holliday(notes), who is playing his first series at Colorado since the Rockies traded him away in the offseason.

“It didn’t matter where it was,” Holliday said. “I have a lot of friends over there. It’s a new team and a new experience, a totally different thing.”

A similar party recently seemed inevitable for the Rockies, but they’ve lost three of four and the Atlanta Braves have won five straight to move within 2 1/2 games—two in the loss column—of Colorado in the wild-card chase.

“We’re still ahead,” starter Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) said. “That’s what matters. No pressure, we’re still ahead.”

Still, there could be concerns about the team’s offense. One night after being pinch-hit for in the ninth inning, struggling All-Star Brad Hawpe(notes) hit a two-run home run to tie Saturday’s game at 3 in the fourth inning, but the Rockies went 0 for 13 with men in scoring position and were held to three or fewer runs for the seventh time in 13 games. They are 5-8 in that stretch.

Colorado will need to score plenty of runs if Jorge De La Rosa(notes) pitches like he did Tuesday against San Diego. The left-hander, who had been 3-0 with a 1.04 ERA in his previous four starts, gave up six runs in 2 1-3 innings but got ample run support in the Rockies’ 11-10 win.

“I don’t know what happened today,” De La Rosa told the Rockies’ official Web site. “… I tried to pound the strike zone, and I couldn’t throw strikes. I have to forget this one and get ready for the next one.”

De La Rosa beat St. Louis on June 5 - part of Colorado’s 5-0 start against the Cardinals this season before Saturday’s loss. If the season ended after Saturday’s games, the teams would face off in an NL division series.

That could lend extra importance to Kyle Lohse’s(notes) start Sunday. While the Rockies may be grateful after facing NL Cy Young Award contenders Chris Carpenter(notes) and Adam Wainwright(notes) the last two days, Lohse (6-8, 4.81) could be pitching for a spot in the postseason rotation.

The right-hander will hope to build on a promising outing Monday at Houston. He allowed three runs and five hits in six innings of a 7-3 win - his first quality start since Aug. 10 - and seemed to have recovered from a forearm injury that forced him to be scratched from his previous start.

“I didn’t really have any issues with it,” Lohse said. “Mentally, I was locked in a lot better. I wasn’t getting frustrated by not putting the ball where I wanted to. All-around, I felt a lot better.”

Lohse, however, had major problems in his last visit to Coors Field, allowing seven runs in four innings of a 9-3 loss May 8, 2008. He hasn’t beaten the Rockies since 2003.

Todd Helton(notes) is 5 for 12 (.417) with three walks a home run lifetime against Lohse, while Troy Tulowitzki(notes) is 4 for 7 (.571) with two doubles and a homer.

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Starting Pitchers

K. Lohse TEX vs. J. De La Rosa ARI
6-10 Record 16-9
4.74 ERA 4.38
77 K 193
36 BB 83
1.37 WHIP 1.38