He was back at his home in Fort Collins, Colo., after making the
first six starts of his professional career in rookie ball and Class
A, watching the Cardinals march to the World Series on television.
"It's happened fast," said Gonzales, the Cardinals' first pick in
the June amateur draft last year. "It's awesome that it's come true.
I'm very grateful for this opportunity for sure."
In need of a starter after deciding to slow down Michael Wacha's
return from the disabled list, where he spent more than two months
this summer, the Cardinals turned to Gonzales, a 22-year-old rookie,
to pitch against his hometown Rockies. He did not let them down.
Making only the fifth start of his career, Gonzales worked 5 2/3
innings, allowing just four hits and one run while striking out
nine, and the Cardinals went on to complete a sweep of the
three-game series from the Rockies with a 4-1 victory.
The win allowed the Cardinals to maintain a 3 1/2-game lead over the
Pirates in the NL Central with two weeks to play in the regular
"It was a great challenge and he was able to handle it extremely
well," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.
Gonzales, whose father is a minor-league pitching coach in the
Rockies organization, earned his third victory by working around
four walks. Colorado's lone run scored in the second when Gonzales
issued a leadoff walk followed by an RBI double by left fielder
"The goal is just to go out there and compete," Gonzales said. "My
number was called so I gave it my best shot and we came out on top."
Gonzales made his major-league debut against the Rockies, in Denver,
on June 25 but since that time, including a stint back in Triple A,
he has returned to the majors as a more refined pitcher.
"My first stint I was trying to do a little too much," Gonzales
said. "Running around with my head cut off a little bit, but I think
I'm back to normal now and just trying to do what I do."
Matheny said Gonzales has been able to develop a better curve ball,
which has helped improve his change-up and other pitches.
"He got himself in trouble at times but he was able to work out of
it," Matheny said. "It was a terrific outing. We needed that big and
he came up big."
The nine strikeouts were the most in a game by a Cardinals' rookie
left-hander since Rick Ankiel struck out 11 Pirates on Sept. 13,
2000. They were followed by seven more strikeouts outs by five
relievers, matching the team's season high of 16 strikeouts in a
It was just a continuation of the offensive woes that have plagued
the Rockies, who completed an 0-6 road trip to New York and St.
Louis and suffered their 90th loss of the season.
The Rockies scored eight runs combined in the six games, three of
which came in one inning.
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"We've talked about it to death," said manager Walt Weiss. "Guys are
up there trying to take the right approach but it was a tough road
trip. Looking down the road we know we've got to get better away
from our place for sure."
The Cardinals scored three times in the third off starter Jordan
Lyles (6-3). Left fielder Matt Holliday's one-out double scored
outfielder Jon Jay, who had reached on a fielder's choice and gone
to second on a wild pickoff throw. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta followed
with a two-run homer to put the Cardinals ahead.
The homer was Peralta's 21st of the season, extending his own
franchise record for most homers in a season by a Cardinals'
"They did their damage," Lyles said. "Good piece of hitting my
Holliday and I make a mistake to Peralta, left it over the plate a
little more than I wanted to and he hit it a long way."
The Cardinals increased the lead to 4-1 in the eighth when catcher
Yadier Molina got his third hit, a double, and later scored on a
wild pitch by Rex Brothers.
After Gonzales left the game, relievers Seth Maness, Randy Choate,
Carlos Martinez, Pat Neshek and Trevor Rosenthal combined to record
the final 10 outs, with Rosenthal earning his league-leading 44th
save, three shy of the franchise record, by striking out the side in
NOTES: The Cardinals will skip RHP John Lackey's turn in the
rotation after he complained of not being able to get loose in his
last start, when he was kicked out of the game in the third inning
Wednesday night in Cincinnati for arguing balls and strikes. "We're
going to need him," said manager Mike Matheny. "We want to get him
right." ... RHPs Lance Lynn, Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller will
start the three games against Milwaukee Tuesday through Thursday.
... 1B Justin Morneau was out of Colorado's lineup for a second
consecutive day Sunday after hurting his left side in Friday night's
game. With a .315 average, Morneau is two points behind leader Josh
Harrison of the Pirates in the NL batting race. ... The Rockies
return home Monday to open a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers,
while the Cardinals have the day off before beginning the series
against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.
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