Morneau day to day with intercostal strain

First baseman, who is battling for the NL batting title, exits in sixth inning

Morneau day to day with intercostal strain

ST. LOUIS -- Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau entered Friday night's game against the Cardinals insisting that winning the National League batting crown was at a lower priority than playing the game correctly. Now he'll have to hope he won't be sidelined from playing the game for too long.

Morneau went 0-for-3 in the 5-1 loss to see his average drop to .315. The Pirates' Josh Harrison went 3-for-4 to jump to .318 and take the lead from Morneau. On top of that, Morneau had to leave before the bottom of the sixth with a left intercostal (rib-cage muscle) strain. He is listed as day to day.

When Morneau is able to play, he wants to focus on more than just the batting crown. Three of the Rockies' final five series of the season are against contending clubs -- the three-game series vs. the Cardinals this weekend and two three-game sets with the NL West-leading Dodgers.

"I've always tried to play the game the right way, run balls out, do those things you're supposed to do," Morneau said. "This is when it becomes fun, when you're playing these teams. There will be a big crowd tonight, and their team is in first place. This is where we wish we were. If you want to allow yourself to be distracted by personal things, you can do that. But concentrate on having a good approach, and hopefully the game rewards you."

In his first year in a Rockies uniform, Morneau has proven not to be a creation of Coors Field. He is batting .321 at Coors in 62 games and .308 in 62 road games.

Morneau has hit for more power at Coors Field --10 homers to five on the road. But he has hit for average because he has managed a consistent swing no matter where he plays.

"You have to have discipline to think of it like 'Morney,'" Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "I've seen some hitters, because they play at Coors Field, their swing gets bigger. When they get away from there, it makes it tougher on the road."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.