ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Denied their first road series win of the year, the Colorado Rockies were still pleased with a split against the defending NL champions.
Abraham Nunez singled home the winning run in the ninth inning of the St. Louis Cardinals' 5-4 victory Sunday, giving them two wins in the four-game series against a team with the worst road record in more than two decades."We played in front of full houses against the best team in the National League, and we came out of here with a split," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "I'd say that's progress."Albert Pujols had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 15 games and Scott Rolen had two hits and an RBI for the Cardinals, who completed a 6-4 homestand in which they also struggled against Pittsburgh and Cincinnati."We've been sneaking by a couple of teams and playing just good enough to win," Jim Edmonds said. "It's nice to get a win out of that game. They're a good young team."St. Louis reached the halfway point at 51-30, best in the NL."All we've done is put ourselves in good position," manager Tony La Russa said. "If this is the last good stretch of baseball, our fans will never forgive us."The Rockies haven't won a road series in 13 attempts this year and 16 in a row dating to last September. They did earn only their second split of the year, and first since a two-game series at Philadelphia from April 20-21, against the team with the NL's best
record.Colorado matched a season best with three homers by Dustan Mohr, Luis Gonzalez and Preston Wilson. The Rockies fell to 7-33 on the road, worst in the majors since the 1982 Twins also started with that record.Jay Witasick (0-3) walked Yadier Molina to open the ninth and John Mabry sacrificed. Nunez, getting a spot start at shortstop, singled to right on the first pitch and Molina scored easily with the winning run."Nobody needs to tell me that walks can hurt," Witasick said. "We went with my best pitch, a slider, and it happened to come at the right time for him."Ray King (2-1), pitching for the third straight day, got Aaron Miles to hit into an inning-ending double play in the ninth.Cardinals starter Mark Mulder gave up a season-high three homers in six innings and has allowed seven in his last four outings. He allowed four runs and seven hits.Rockies starter Jason Jennings lasted six innings and gave up four runs -- two earned -- and seven hits.Mohr hit his seventh homer in the first, Gonzalez hit his fourth in the second and Wilson hit his 14th in the third, giving the Rockies a 3-2 lead. Rolen had an RBI double and Molina a run-scoring groundout in the second for the Cardinals.Miles' RBI double in the fourth gave Colorado a two-run cushion, but his fielding error to start the fifth helped the Cardinals tie it. Jennings also made an error in the fifth, dropping a relay from second on Larry Walker's groundout that allowed Nunez to score from second.Perhaps Jennings was distracted when Walker tapped him on the back while running to first."These guys played with me for 10 years, they should know me," Walker said. "You do what you have to do to get a run across."A two-out RBI single by Mark Grudzielanek, who had been in a 5-for-33 slump and stranded four runners his first two at-bats, tied it at 4.
So Taguchi started in left field for the Cardinals in place of Reggie Sanders, who sprained his foot sliding into second on the game-ending double play Saturday. Sanders expects to play Monday. ... Pujols is 23-for-56 (.411) during his 15-game hitting streak, which is one game off his season best. ... A paid crowd of 47,811 was the Cardinals' second straight sellout and 16th overall. The team averaged attendance of 44,306 during the homestand. ... Todd Helton was 0-for-4, ending an 11-game hitting streak.