ST. LOUIS — Nolan Arenado showed a national TV audience on ESPN a little Golden Nolan magic Monday night at Busch Stadium.
The Rockies’ four-time Gold Glove third baseman went horizontal to make a diving catch on Kolten Wong’s line drive to end the first inning. The play prevented St. Louis from making its two-run inning into something much bigger. The Cardinals’ baseball-savvy fans even gave Arenado a nice ovation.
But it was mostly downhill — in a hurry — from there for the Rockies in an 8-2 loss.
Starter Antonio Senzatela was gone after just four innings, having allowed four runs on six hits. His fastball command, something manager Bud Black has preached that Senzatela must regain, was lacking again.
The Rockies’ offense, which had cranked out 74 runs over a 6-1 stretch (that’s 10.6 runs per game, folks) was smothered by St. Louis right-hander Mike Leake. He allowed no runs on four hits over seven innings. Leake struck out six and didn’t walk a batter, the fifth outing this season in which he didn’t hand out a free pass.
Colorado avoided being shut out when Pat Valaika slugged a two-run homer in the eighth off reliever Zach Duke. It was Valaika’s third pinch-hit homer this season, a Rockies rookie record. “Patty Barrels,” as some have taken to calling him, is 13-for-33 (.394) with a double and 11 RBIs as a pinch hitter. Those 11 pinch-hit RBIs tie Valaika with Jim Tatum (1993) for the franchise rookie record.
Senzatela, a rookie right-hander, got off to another shaky start, giving up two quick runs and now owns an 8.47 first-inning ERA. His overall ERA is 4.84.
Senzatela, 10-4, walked Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham right out of the gate, and paid the price when Paul DeJong rapped an RBI single. The Cardinals scored their second run when Jedd Gyorko grounded into a double play, allowing Pham to score.
Randal Grichuk’s two-run homer in the fourth put the Cardinals in front 4-0. Wong hit a double to right and jogged home on Grichuk’s 13th homer. Grichuk clobbered Senzatela’s 2-1, 91.5 mph, center-cut fastball over the Cardinals’ bullpen beyond right field. It was his fourth consecutive game with a home run.
Long reliever Chris Rusin, who has been mostly reliable this season, got torched in the seventh when the Cardinals cinched up the victory. Pinch-hitter Jose Martinez hit a solo homer to left, and Pham encored with a homer to right.