By Jenifer Langosch and Thomas Harding
ST. LOUIS -- After squandering a four-run lead, the Cardinals utilized a six-run fourth and a six-RBI night from Matt Carpenter to put away the Rockies and seal a series win with a 13-7 victory on Thursday night at Busch Stadium.
The game had a Coors Field feel early, as the two clubs combined for 16 runs and 18 hits through the first four innings. Neither Rockies starter Jon Gray nor Cardinals starter Michael Wacha made it any further. The Rockies chased Wacha by batting around and scoring four times in the frame, which featured RBI hits by Daniel Descalso and Gray. The Cardinals answered by sending 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the inning.
"I think we fed off each other really well tonight, and even when we got down, we came right back," said Stephen Piscotty, the Cardinals' cleanup hitter du jour. "To get something back -- that was big. But to get six? That was a lot of fun."
Carpenter drove in six himself from the leadoff spot on a 3-for-5 night in which he doubled twice before blasting his team-leading ninth home run. Piscotty had his second straight three-hit night and tallied a pair of RBI doubles. Matt Adams drove home four behind him, giving the first baseman his first four-RBI game since July 2014.
"We've shown the ability to pile on when we do have a good offensive day, and today was a good example of that," said Carpenter, the first Cardinal since Red Schoendienst in 1953 to tally two doubles, a homer and six RBIs in a game. "We've got some guys who can do some things in there, some pieces that we haven't had in the past and some guys who are really swinging the bat well. "
Gray, who bowed out after 3 1/3 innings after posting a 1.80 ERA over his previous three outings, spent much of the night pitching behind in counts.
"I was getting frustrated -- frustrated at myself," Gray said. "Man, I just didn't feel it. I didn't have any feel for the zone. When the pitches needed to be in the zone, they weren't. When they needed to be out of the zone, they were."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Re-ordering: Cardinals manager Mike Matheny created his 36th different lineup of the season on Thursday, and he might have found one that will stick. With the club lacking sufficient production from the cleanup spot, Matheny dropped Piscotty into that slot and batted rookie Aledmys Diaz second for the first time. The ordering paid immediate dividends, as Piscotty had a pair of RBI hits, and Diaz came through with an RBI single. Both scored twice.
"I just feel like we have a group of guys who are taking the same kind of at-bats," Matheny said. "Try to put them in places where they can create some big innings and get opportunities to drive runs in. I think that was part of the purpose with [moving] Stephen today. He had some opportunities he did great with." More >
There goes the momentum: Gray gave up four runs in the first two innings and needed a throw from catcher Tony Wolters, who erased Piscotty on a steal attempt, to settle things in the third. A four-run fourth, which included Gray's RBI single, gave him a 6-4 lead. Gray had his chance to erase the poor beginning, but a five-pitch walk to Yadier Molina to lead off the bottom of the frame set in motion the six-run inning.
"I knew it was going to be tough from the get-go, not having my stuff," Gray said. "I knew it was going to be a battle, but I didn't expect to lose that bad.
"It's got to be [higher] quality. Even if I give up five, still keep the team in the game. I can't go back out there and give up more."
Calming presence: After watching the two clubs plate a combined 10 fourth-inning runs, Tyler Lyons relieved Wacha and set down the Rockies in order in the fifth. He retired the first seven batters he faced in his three-inning appearance. Even though Trevor Story stung him with a solo homer in the seventh, Lyons brought the game deep enough to where the Cardinals could hand it over to setup man Seung Hwan Oh.
Remembering how to trot: No one thought Rockies rookie shortstop Story would stay on the crazy home run pace of his first month. He went 53 at-bats without a homer until his solo shot off Lyons in the seventh to cut the deficit to 10-7. It was his 12th home run of the season. Earlier in the game, he drove in two runs with a double and finished a triple shy of a cycle. More >
"First couple innings, I felt good. I was hitting my spots, keeping the ball on the corner and down in the zone. Then that fourth inning got away from me a little bit with the leadoff walk and leaving balls over the plate. They'll make you play." -- Wacha, who has allowed six runs in consecutive starts
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Cardinals scored 10-plus runs for the ninth time this season, equaling the franchise record for most double-digit affairs in the team's first 41 games. It had previously happened in 1930 and 2000. Last year, the Cardinals scored 10 runs in a game only nine times all season.
GRICHUK EXITS WITH BACK TIGHTNESS
Cardinals center fielder Randal Grichuk exited the game before the top of the fourth due to left lower back tightness. After seeing Grichuk run gingerly while scoring in the second and going after a flyball in the third, Matheny got Grichuk to confess that he had been feeling tightness in his back since Wednesday. The Cardinals pulled Grichuk when they did in hopes of getting ahead of the injury. More >
BERGMAN SUSTAINS LEFT OBLIQUE INJURY
After Gray left, righty Christian Bergman had to marshal his pain tolerance just to make it through the rest of the frame, with two hits and one run. He sustained a left oblique injury on his third pitch and is most likely headed for the 15-day disabled list.
"I couldn't get anything to my glove side, and it was really pretty painful," said Bergman, who had never had this type of injury before and had no warning signs of it. "My hope was to get through the inning so we didn't have to get another guy loose; just find a way through it. Hopefully, it didn't make it any worse, but I don't know."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Cardinals successfully deployed their challenge to have a second-inning infield single by Mark Reynolds overturned into the final out of the frame. The replay review lasted 51 seconds before it was determined that Kolten Wong's throw to first baseman Adams had beaten Reynolds to the base.
WHAT'S NEXT Rockies: Righty Eddie Butler (2-1, 4.74 ERA), who has won two straight, opens a three-game set against the Pirates and righty Gerrit Cole (4-3, 3.05) at 5:05 p.m. MT on Friday.
Cardinals: They will next host the D-backs in a three-game series, which begins at 7:15 p.m. CT on Friday. Carlos Martinez, who has lost three consecutive starts for the first time in his career, will go for St. Louis against Arizona's Patrick Corbin.