Rockies stifled by Wainwright, lose 3-0 to Cards
AP Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS — There’s no panic button for Walt Weiss. The Colorado Rockies’ manager has trust in an offense that entered the weekend as the National League’s best, even though it’s scrounging for table scraps these days.
After Adam Wainwright carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning and was one out from the St. Louis Cardinals’ second straight one-hitter over the suddenly punchless Rockies in a 3-0 victory Saturday, there was no mention of lineup changes or team meetings.
“You leave it alone,” Weiss said. “These guys do their work every day and they prepare for the game. Everyone gets beat up a little bit in this game at some time. Our guys will keep grinding.”
One small positive — they had two hits the last three innings.
“I think we took some better at bats late in the game and squared some balls up,” Weiss said. “Hopefully it will roll over into tomorrow.”
The Rockies had been hitless in 49 consecutive at-bats before Nolan Arenado lined a clean hit to center field with one out in the eighth. Eric Young led off Friday night’s game with a broken-bat single off rookie Shelby Miller, then failed to put a runner on until Todd Helton walked with one out in the fifth inning a day later.
The 49 at-bats is the longest hitless stretch since Sept. 25-27, 1981, when the Los Angeles Dodgers went 50 at-bats without a knock, according to STATS.
“Just trying to hit the ball hard,” Arenado said. “We haven’t been getting a lot of hits lately so you try not to think about ‘Let’s get a hit here.’”
Wainwright doffed his cap in appreciation during a prolonged standing ovation from a sellout crowd of 43,050, then quickly retired the next two hitters.
Wainwright (5-2) gave up a two-out single to Dexter Fowler and matched his career best with a two-hitter.
Wainwright struck out seven for his second shutout of the season and sixth of his career. The Rockies have been shut out for 26 consecutive innings since Carlos Gonzalez hit a first-inning sacrifice fly against the Yankees on Thursday, and have had just one runner in scoring position the first two games of the series.
“It’s a battle,” Arenado said. “That’s why they’re one of the major leagues’ best teams. We’re fine, we’re going to be all right.”
Allen Craig had three hits and a sacrifice fly and Yadier Molina had two hits and an RBI for the Cardinals, who have won nine of 10 and are a major league-best 23-12.
Wainwright has won five of his last six starts, recapturing his form as the staff ace in his second season coming off reconstructive elbow surgery. He has thrown a pair of two-hitters, the last on Aug. 6, 2010 at Florida.
Wainwright bounced back from his lone poor outing when he gave up five runs in 5 1-3 innings at Milwaukee his last time out. He’s 5-1 against the Rockies.
Wainwright and Miller retired 40 consecutive batters with 18 strikeouts before Helton walked. He was stranded when Arenado fouled out and Reid Brignac grounded out.
All things appeared headed toward the no-hitter after Matt Carpenter made a sliding stab of a grounder about 10 feet onto the outfield grass behind second base for the first out in the eighth. Wainwright smiled broadly at the play. Arenado, though, then singled.
The Cardinals loaded the bases with one out in the second and fourth, both times with the eighth and ninth-place hitter coming up. Both times, Jhoulys Chacin (3-2) escaped by striking out Pete Kozma and Wainwright.
They loaded them again in the fifth on singles by Carpenter, Jon Jay and Matt Holliday and took the lead on Craig’s sacrifice fly, with Matt Adams adding a two-out RBI single.
“He certainly battled,” Weiss said. “He did a nice job minimizing damage and pitching out of it completely a couple times.”
Matt Holliday, Craig and Molina hit consecutive singles off Josh Outman in the seventh to make it 3-0.
Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki have each struck out five times the first two games. Gonzalez is in a 3 for 22 slump with 10 strikeouts.
NOTES: LHP Jaime Garcia (4-1, 2.25) faces Jorge De La Rosa (3-3, 3.52) in the series finale Sunday. .. Chacin’s comebacker to end the third ended a string of eight straight strikeouts by the pitcher’s spot on both teams to start the series. … Rockies OF Michael Cuddyer missed his third straight game with neck stiffness and expects to undergo an MRI exam on Monday.
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