Matt Holliday came through for the St. Louis Cardinals in their recent win and will try to stay on track Wednesday in the continuation of a four-game series against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
Holliday went 4-for-4 with a two-run homer, three RBI and two runs scored against his former team and helped the Cardinals in their 11-4 pounding of the Rockies. The Cardinals, who took over sole possession of first place in the NL Central and sit one game ahead of Pittsburgh, jumped out to a 10-0 lead and pounded out 18 hits.
"You like gaining a game on them, but there's still a lot of games left and we've got to keep winning games to make it hard on them," Holliday said of the close race with the Pirates.
The Cincinnati Reds are in the mix, too, at 2 1/2 games off the pace.
Matt Carpenter finished with three hits, three runs scored and two RBI, while Jon Jay went 3-for-5 and both Yadier Molina and Daniel Descalso collected two hits and two runs batted in. Carpenter is batting .444 during a nine-game hitting streak and is two doubles shy of matching Stan Musial's club record (53) for doubles by a left-handed batter in a season.
Cardinals starting pitcher Joe Kelly allowed three hits and two walks over five scoreless innings to earn the win, but left the game with right calf soreness. The injury is not deemed serious for the Cards' rotation.
St. Louis, winners in eight of 11 games, will send Adam Wainwright to the mound Wednesday and he is aiming for his 17th win of the season. Wainwright owns a 16-9 mark over 31 starts to go along with a 2.96 earned run average and the Cardinals are 5-2 in his last seven appearances. The right-hander was solid in a no-decision against Seattle in a 2-1 win on Friday and hurled eight innings of one-run ball.
Wainwright has a 9-3 record in 16 road assignments this season and a 5-1 mark with a 1.17 ERA in 10 career games (6 starts) against Colorado.
Colorado will try to bounce back Wednesday and took this series opener, 6-2. However, the bats were silent in the recent loss and Rockies starter Juan Nicasio was hammered to the tune of eight runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings.
"I didn't have control of my fastball, so I had trouble," Nicasio told the Rockies' official website. "When I can't throw my fastball for a strike down in the zone, it's hard for me."
DJ LeMahieu and Michael Cuddyer had an RBI apiece, as the Rockies lost for the eighth time in their last 11 contests. Cuddyer leads the NL batting race with a .331 average, just a few points ahead of Atlanta's Chris Johnson (.327).
The Rockies are 1-1 on their nine-game homestand and will hand the ball to Tyler Chatwood Wednesday in hopes of him cooling off the Cardinals. Chatwood is 7-4 with a 3.20 ERA in 18 starts, but hasn't posted a decision in each of his previous three outings. In a 7-5 win at Arizona on Friday, Chatwood lasted 4 2/3 innings and was reached for seven hits and two runs.
Chatwood, a right-hander, has allowed two runs or less in three straight and seven of his last eight trips to the mound. He has pitched well at Coors Field this season, going 4-1 in nine starts, and is 0-1 in two career relief appearances against the Cardinals.
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.