"The thing he did in Minnesota is he knew how to drive in runs,"
In the Rockies 10-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday,
Morneau hit a three-run run homer and had six RBIs, one short of his
career high. Morneau has hit 13 home runs this season and has 57
RBIs, one shy of National League leader Giancarlo Stanton of Miami.
Morneau's three-run homer gave the Rockies a 6-4 lead in the fourth,
and his two-run single in the seventh boosted their margin to 8-5.
His big game helped the Rockies end their seven-game losing streak,
one short of their season high.
Morneau, who went 3-for-5 to raise his average to .304, has been on
an RBI tear, driving in 13 runs in his past five games and 23 runs
in his past 13 games. That surge might carry weight when the
National League team is selected for the All-Star Game, which will
be played in Minnesota where Morneau spent the bulk of his career.
"It's an American League park, so they can take a few extra hitters,
have that DH," said Morneau, who has had four career games with at
least six RBIs in his career. "You pay attention to it a little bit.
It would be fun. Obviously it's not going to make or break the
season, but I would really love -- if I belong there, I would like
the opportunity to go."
Morneau's big night helped Jorge De La Rosa (7-6) win for the first
time since May 27. He had been 0-3 with an 8.20 ERA but pitched
seven innings, matching his season-high for the fourth time and did
not walk anyone for the first time in 16 starts. De La Rosa allowed
nine hits and five runs.
The Cardinals can only hope the defeat wasn't too costly. Starter
Shelby Miller left after 2 2/3 innings with mid-back spasms. He
threw 73 pitches, just 37 strikes, and allowed six hits, five walks
and three runs.
"It's kind of like a stinger, I guess, kind of like in the middle of
my back, and it would go up as I extended my arm," Miller said. "I
don't know; it was weird. I'll come in tomorrow, take care of it
early (with treatment) and be ready for my next one."
The Cardinals can only hope so, since starters Michael Wacha and
Jaime Garcia were both placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday
with shoulder injuries. Neither pitcher is expected to return soon.
Skeptics wondered whether Morneau could still be effective against
left-handed pitchers and could still provide power when the Rockies
signed him to a two-year, $12.5 million contract in the offseason.
But he played last season healthy after dealing with the
aftereffects of two concussions and has been a boon to the Rockies.
Morneau's three-run homer came against left-hander Nick Greenwood
(1-1) and was his third against a lefty this season. And his two-run
single came against left-hander Sam Freeman, who entered the game
having held left-handed hitters to an .095 (2-for-21) average.
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"That's all I heard," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "'He can't
hit lefties and this and that.' The track record speaks for itself.
He had a tough couple years with the concussion thing, and maybe
some of those numbers against lefties got skewed over that time. But
he's a great hitter, period."
After Morneau's single in the seventh, the Rockies tacked on two
runs in the eighth. Drew Stubbs led off the inning with his first
career pinch-hit home run, and Charlie Blackmon, who had three hits,
singled home the Rockies' final run.
Adam Ottavino, who has struggled lately, gave up a single to pinch
hitter Yadier Molina, the first batter he faced, to load the bases
in the eighth but struck out pinch hitter Jon Jay to end the inning.
Closer LaTroy Hawkins pitched the ninth, giving up shot to Matt
Carpenter that right fielder Brandon Barnes hauled down with a
diving catch in the gap. With much less fanfare, Hawkins retired the
next two batters to end the game.
"Obviously it's a win we needed," Morneau said, "to give ourselves a
chance to win the series tomorrow, which is huge."
NOTES: LHP Yohan Flande, who is 2-9 with a 4.42 ERA at Triple-A
Colorado Springs, will start Wednesday for the Rockies in his major
league debut. He is replacing RHP Christian Bergman, who underwent
an MRI exam Monday that detected a broken left trapezium, a bone in
his wrist, the result of getting hit with a line drive in his Friday
start. ... SS/3B Rosell Herrera, who is playing at the Rockies'
Class A Modesto affiliate, was selected to play in the Futures Game
at Target Field in Minneapolis on July 13. The Cardinals' farmhands
chosen to play in the game are LHP Marco Gonzales and OF James
Ramsey. Gonzales could miss the game, as he is making his major
league debut Wednesday and has a chance to stay in the Cardinals'
rotation. ... Rockies LHP Brett Anderson (fractured left index
finger), LHP Boone Logan (left elbow inflammation), RHP Tyler
Chatwood (right flexor tendon strain) and RHP Rafael Betancourt
(right elbow surgery) faced hitters in live batting practice.
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