Kelly, Cardinals eye rebound effort against Rockies

Joe Kelly tries to get himself and the St. Louis Cardinals back on track when he takes the mound Tuesday in the second meeting of a four- game series against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

Kelly was 8-0 with a 1.70 earned run average in 10 starts before the Milwaukee Brewers dropped him for a 5-3 loss on Thursday. He allowed four runs, three of which were earned, and seven hits in five inning. St. Louis was 9-1 during Kelly's unbeaten run.

The right-hander, who is 8-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 34 games (13 starts), is 4-0 on the road this season and 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA in two career meetings (1 start) with the Rockies.

Juan Nicasio toes the rubber for the Rockies Tuesday and he owns an 8-7 record with a 4.58 ERA in 28 starts this season. Nicasio is 0-1 in his past three outings and has recorded two straight no-decisions, including a 4-3 loss at San Francisco on Wednesday.

San Francisco reached him for just one run and five hits in five innings and the right-hander has yielded only two earned runs in his last two appearances. Nicasio has a 4-2 record in 12 home starts and defeated the Cardinals the only time he faced them on May 28, 2011. In that 15-4 win over St. Louis at Coors Field, Nicasio permitted an unearned run and six hits in seven innings.

St. Louis dropped the opener of this set 6-2, but is still tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates for the NL Central lead. The Pirates were downed by the San Diego Padres Monday night and the Cincinnati Reds moved to within 2 1/2 games of the division lead.

A four-run eighth inning by the Rockies was too much for the Cardinals and reliever Trevor Rosenthal was held accountable for giving up all four runs. Matt Carpenter and David Freese had an RBI apiece and Matt Adams ended 2-for-4 with a run scored for St. Louis, which has alternated wins and losses in its last six contests.

"We're away, we just need to win games. If we win games we'll end up where were supposed to be," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.

St. Louis starter Lance Lynn worked 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball, allowing just six hits and one walk while fanning four in the no-decision.

Wilin Rosario and Charlie Blackmon each drove in a run and Ryan Wheeler had a two-RBI hit during the decisive eighth for the Rockies, who ended a two-game slide and won for just the third time in the last 10 games. Blackmon had three hits on the night.

"I think our guys have done a great job down the stretch. We would love to have won more games, but it is certainly not for a lack of effort. These guys are showing up well, and they have all year," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.

Michael Cuddyer was 0-for-4 and his batting average dipped to .329, one point behind Atlanta's Chris Johnson for the NL batting title.

Chad Bettis earned the win in an inning of relief and Colorado starter Collin McHugh allowed a run over five innings. McHugh was making a spot start for Jorge De La Rosa, who is bothered by a thumb injury.

Colorado lost two of three games at St. Louis from May 10-12 and went 2-5 in last season's series with the Cardinals.