Cards hold off Rox, tie for 2nd Wild Card

Cards hold off Rox, tie for 2nd Wild Card

DENVER -- Carlos Martinez powered himself to his career-high 15th win with a fourth-inning double, as the Cardinals topped the Rockies, 5-3, at Coors Field on Monday and moved into a tie for the second National League Wild Card spot.

The Cards joined the Giants -- who lost to the Dodgers -- top the second Wild Card, while the Mets lead the first Wild Card by one game.

The Cardinals scored early against Rockies starter Tyler Anderson. Randal Grichuk launched his 23rd homer, a two-run shot, to take a 2-1 lead in the third, and Martinez doubled in two runs an inning later -- after a two-out Nolan Arenado throwing error on a spinning throw to first base -- with his first extra-base hit of the season. Matt Carpenter singled to right to score Martinez.

Carpenter's RBI single

"It really helped that I was helping my cause," Martinez said through a translator. "Not only my cause but also the team. I knew that the minute that the game was tied, we were going to come back a lot more aggressive and a lot more positive to be able to have the outcome that we had."

Anderson regrouped after the third and lasted seven innings. He yielded eight hits, and five runs (two earned), and struck out seven against no walks. Still, it was a solid comeback from his last outing, when he gave up nine hits and six runs (five earned) in 4 1/3 innings at Arizona.

"Tonight my focus was to try to get ahead, try to throw a lot more strikes than I did last time, and stay out of hitter's counts," Anderson said.

Anderson strikes out seven

Although Martinez only lasted five innings -- his shortest outing since Aug. 6 -- he held the Rockies to two runs on five hits with six strikeouts. The Rockies had RBI singles by David Dahl in the first and Nolan Arenado in the third, but managed little against St. Louis' bullpen. They reached base three times against five relievers and scored once, on Ryan Raburn's pinch-hit homer in the ninth against Kevin Siegrist, who earned his third save.

Siegrist secures the win

Martinez recovers quickly: Following Grichuk's third-inning homer, Martinez was hit in the leg by a pitch from Anderson but remained in the game. Oddly enough, he improved his performance after the hit by pitch. Martinez surrendered two runs in the first three frames but pitched a scoreless fourth and fifth while striking out a pair.

Martinez shaken up

"Luckily I got hit where there's muscle and meat, so it didn't hurt as much," Martinez said. "For a minute I got scared and I thought I was going to be taken out of the game, but I was able to recuperate and stay in the game."

Martinez also had to use an oxygen mask to help him catch his breath after running the bases in the fourth. Manager Mike Matheny said that he thought Martinez looked "green" at first but got back to full strength midway through the fourth.

Martinez shows versatility

"Martinez is tough to square up," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It's electric stuff -- big-time velocity and a nasty slider. Even when you get him on the ropes, it's tough to get that big hit."

Weiss on Anderson, Martinez

Battles with Blackmon: Martinez and Cards lefty Zach Duke won matchups with the Rockies' Charlie Blackmon in key two-out, two-on situations. Martinez forced a groundout in the fourth, and Duke coaxed a fly ball in the sixth.

Martinez gets out of a jam

Bottom of the order steps up: The Cardinals' 7-8-9 hitters Jedd Gyorko, Grichuk and Martinez scored all five of the team's runs and reached base in each of their first two plate appearances. Gyorko doubled and singled, Grichuk homered and reached on an error by Arenado, and Martinez was hit by a pitch and doubled.

Martinez's two-run double

"It just shows the depth that our lineup can be," Gyorko said. "Myself and 'Grich' and Jhonny [Peralta] are all at the bottom doesn't mean that that's a weak spot in the order. We take pride in being good from top to bottom and having good at-bats." More >

A threat: The ninth ended with the possible winning run on base, but the Rockies would not have had that chance without Raburn, who has four pinch-hit homers this season. The club record is five, by Mark Sweeney in 2004.

Raburn's solo homer

"He kept his composure well. I thought he came out a little amped. Once again you could see the fastball flying a little bit. He had trouble kind of getting the sinker to cooperate. ... You've got to harness that, and he did a nice job of making adjustments and finding a way to give us a chance through five." -- Matheny, on Martinez

"We've seen him make that play. He makes it look easy. It wasn't an easy play, and the throw was a little high. He does that play so well. That's the thing with Nolan, you get used to him making highlight plays every night and think he's going to do it for 162 games." -- Weiss, on Arenado, who rebounded from the error for several dazzling fielding plays

Arenado's barehanded pickups

Before Chad Bettis drew two walks Sunday against the Padres, a Rockies pitcher hadn't walked twice in a game since Juan Nicasio against the Giants on April 9, 2013. Well, Rockies pitchers didn't wait long for their next two-walk contest. Anderson drew free passes in the fourth and sixth Monday.

Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu drew a first-inning walk to run his on-base streak to 35 games. He went 2-for-4 with two runs, and his .349 batting average put him a point ahead of Daniel Murphy for the NL lead. More >

LeMahieu's single to center

Cardinals: Right-hander Adam Wainwright starts as the Cardinals take on the Rockies at 7:40 p.m. CT on Tuesday. Wainwright hasn't been able to get very deep into games lately, as he finished six innings in just four of his past nine starts. The long ball has hurt him, with eight given up during those starts.

Rockies: Left-hander Jorge De La Rosa takes the mound for the second game of a three-game set against the Cardinals on Tuesday at 6:40 p.m. MT. De La Rosa has give up at least five runs in his past three starts, with two homers given up in each of his past two starts. He has one quality start in his past seven outings.

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Ben Weinrib is a reporter for based in Denver.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.