Early home run stings Rockies in St. Louis

Holliday hits three-run shot in first, and Colorado unable to recover

Early home run stings Rockies in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- With the Rockies providing no offensive punch this road trip, left-hander Jorge De La Rosa had little room for a mistake -- like the one that Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday sent into the third deck in the first inning on Friday night.

Holliday blasted a 93-mph fastball out to left for a three-run homer in the first inning of the National League Central-leading Cards' 5-1 victory at Busch Stadium in front of a sold-out crowd of 45,108.

Holliday's 17th homer of the season, after Matt Carpenter drew a leadoff walk and Randal Grichuk reached on an infield single, went 467 feet. It was the second-longest home run since Busch Stadium III opened in 2006. It was two feet shy of Holliday's 469-foot shot on July 20, 2012, against the Cubs. The ball sailed over the Big Mac Land sign on the façade of the third deck, about three rows up.

"It was supposed to be away, but it ran to the middle, and he hit it really good," said De La Rosa, who must win his final three starts to match his career high for wins (16).

Cards starter Adam Wainwright (18-9) held the Rockies to one run on six hits and struck out eight in eight innings. But things are so rough for the Rockies that the run -- on Nolan Arenado's two-out RBI double in the third inning -- was an improvement. It ended a 21-inning scoreless streak, which was two innings shy of the season's worst (May 24-27 against the Braves and Phillies).

Offensive news grew worse when first baseman Justin Morneau left the game before the bottom of the sixth with left intercostal soreness. He is considered day to day. Morneau entered Friday leading the NL in batting, but his average fell to .315 after his 0-for-3 night. The Pirates' Josh Harrison went 3-for-4 against the Cubs to improve to .318 and leapfrog Morneau.

After Holliday's homer, De La Rosa (13-11) -- despite not being sharp -- performed much like the pitcher the Rockies expected when they signed him to a two-year, $25 million contract extension last Thursday.

The only other run was unearned. Holliday reached on a two-out error by first baseman Morneau in the third inning, stole second and scored on Jhonny Peralta's single. De La Rosa held the Cards to four hits and struck out six against three walks in his six innings.

"I was fighting, because I didn't have my best stuff," De La Rosa said.

However, the first inning illustrated the tightrope being walked by De La Rosa.

Charlie Blackmon opened the game with a double, but he didn't move as Wainwright retired the next three straight. The Rockies went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position on Friday and have gone 5-for-31 with runners in scoring position on the road trip, which started with Colorado being swept by the Mets.

"The series we just came off in New York was a frustrating series," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "We didn't perform very well offensively, and they threw some good arms at us, too, but we still should have done a little more damage than we did. Tonight we only ended up getting one run, but I felt we had a solid approach against Wainwright.

"When he has guys in scoring position, he elevates his game."

Wainwright retired the final 16 batters he faced.

"He throws first-pitch strikes, so he gets a lot of quick innings, too," Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu said. "Once he starts doing that, it's tough to break him."

Yadier Molina's RBI double in the eighth inning off Nick Masset increased the margin for the Cards, who maintained a 2 1/2-game lead over the Pirates in the NL Central.

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.