Game 51 – Cardinals 7, Rockies 3

On Thursday night at Coors Field, the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Colorado Rockies to even the four-game midweek series at two wins each. Juan Encarnacion drove in three runs as Brad Thompson allowed two in a career-long 7 1/3 innings. The Cards now move to Houston for the weekend.

Closing out the four-game series Thursday night with a split, the Cardinals' Brad Thompson (4-1, 4.37) defeated the Rockies' Aaron Cook (4-2, 4.31). The Rockies' ace hadn't lost in his last seven starts. The 22-29 Cards won their second in a row.

The game did not start in a promising manner for the road team. Scott Spiezio was rung up in a 3-6-3 double play to end the Cards first, though replays clearly indicated he was safe.

Ryan Spilborghs singled to lead off the home first and stole second despite a pitchout having been called. He moved up on a ground out and scored on a Matt Holliday single up the middle, giving the Rockies the lead.

The Cardinals came right back. Scott Rolen drew a one-out walk in the second. He was replaced by Juan Encarnacion via a force play. Gary Bennett put him in scoring position with a single and Adam Kennedy tied the game with a single off the shortstop's glove.

The lead was lost again as fast as Garrett Atkins doubled, moved up and scored on a fly out and ground out in the home second.

For the second inning in a row, the Rockies leadoff man doubled. This time it was the pitcher, Cook. Spilborghs singled to put runners on the corners. With two outs, Todd Helton walked to load the bases but Thompson retired Atkins to escape the jam.

Troy Tulowitzki singled and Chris Iannetta walked with one out in the fifth, but Thompson again dodged any further damage.

The Cards finally cracked a big inning in the sixth. So Taguchi walked with one out, breaking Cook's streak of 11 straight Cardinals retired. Jim Edmonds singled for just the Cards' third hit of the night. Rolen loaded the bases on an infield single, a nubber to third base. Juan Encarnacion came through with a 2-1 double struck to the right-center gap. As it rolled to the wall, the bases emptied. Bennett's single scored Encarnacion, putting the Cards up 5-2.

The Cards got to reliever Ramon Ramirez in the eighth. Leading off, Spiezio singled to right but on the run, Hawpe missed the short hop. As the ball rolled to the wall, Spiezio kept going all the way to third. Rolen's double plated the sixth run for the Cardinals. He moved to third base on a wild pitch and scored on Bennett's third hit of the night.

Encarnacion, always mixing good and bad, committed an ugly error on an easy fly ball just into foul territory off the bat of Holliday leading off the eighth. Holliday was eventually retired again as Thompson's last batter of the night. He allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks in 7 1/3 innings. Randy Flores finished the eighth without incident.

Hawpe doubled off Russ Springer leading off the bottom of the ninth. Encarnacion atoned for his error by making a nice running catch on Tulowitzki's liner as Hawpe moved up. He scored on an Iannetta sac fly to make the final score 7-3.

Game Notes:

- The Rockies collected a first-inning run in all four games of the series, breaking out ahead three times.

- Albert Pujols was a late scratch, replaced by Scott Spiezio at first base. No reason was given other than a day off. Pujols did enter the game in the ninth as a defensive replacement, so he must be ok. The Cards started three other reserves as Yadier Molina (wrist), Chris Duncan (knee) and David Eckstein (back) missed their second, fourth and fifth consecutive games respectively.

- With the win Thursday night, the Cardinals took consecutive road victories for the first time since April 9, a span of 7 ½ weeks.

- Aaron Miles, who played for Colorado in 2004 and 2005, collected hits in the first three games of the series, including two doubles, and scored a run in each contest as well. The infielder had multi-hit games in four of his last seven starts and hits in six of the seven. On Thursday, however, Miles went 0-for-5.

- Adam Wainwright (4-4, 5.59) faces Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt (6-4, 3.36) at 7:05 P.M. Central time Friday night in the first of three weekend games there. Saturday and Sunday's contests will both be in the afternoon.

- Tony La Russa comes into the Houston series needing one win to reach 1000 as Cardinals manager. He has 832 losses for a .545 winning percentage with the club. Red Schoendienst is the all-time team leader at 1041 wins.

- Coming into Thursday, the reeling Astros had lost ten games in a row since last being at the .500 mark (21-21) almost two weeks ago. They did defeat Cincinnati Thursday night, however, to break the streak.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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