|St. Louis «||2||0||2||0||0||2||2||0||0||8||17||2|
DENVER -- The ball drifted down the line in left and David Eckstein had a bead on it from the moment of contact.
Though the St. Louis Cardinals shortstop seemingly had no chance at getting there in time, he never stopped and made a last-gasp dive into foul territory.
Somehow, someway he came up with the ball.
"That play in foul territory has to be the second-greatest play by a shortstop in Cardinals history," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "That was an Ozzie Smith-type play."
Eckstein's amazing catch and another spectacular grab to start an inning-ending double play in the fifth helped Matt Morris stay unbeaten despite six shaky innings, lifting the Cardinals to an 8-6 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night.
Morris (6-0) didn't have his best stuff, which isn't a surprise because he's always had trouble at Colorado's Coors Field. He came away with his first win at the hitter-friendly park this time because of Eckstein's superb fielding.
Eckstein's double play in the fifth inning was a thing of beauty. Diving up the middle, he snared Garrett Atkins' chopper and flipped the ball backhanded to second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, who barehanded the relay just in time.
Normally, it would have been the kind of play that would be shown over and over again on the late-night highlights. His play in the third inning made that one look routine.
With the game tied at 2, Colorado's Brad Hawpe sent a looping fly toward the stands in left. Eckstein, left fielder Reggie Sanders and third baseman Scott Seabol all chased after the ball, but it looked as if no one was going to get there.
Then, at just the last second, Eckstein made a diving stab, hit the dirt and got up with the ball in his hand, sending a buzz across the stadium. It was the kind of play that took La Russa back to 1986, when Smith made a diving catch with his back to the plate on a blooper by Von Hayes.
"When it goes up, you feel like you're going to get there," Eckstein said. "You're just going to go as hard as you can and fortunately I got there."
It's a good thing the way the ball was flying around.
After some of the Mile High air had been taken out of Coors Field -- an average of 5.3 runs the previous four games -- the Cardinals and Rockies came out swinging. Each team had five runs by the sixth inning and they combined for 29 hits after playing in the third-lowest scoring game in Coors history the night before.
St. Louis got 17 hits, with Grudzielanek finishing 4-for-5 and Seabol 3-for-3 with two RBI.
The Rockies tried to stay with the Cardinals, finishing with 12 hits, but couldn't overcome another rough outing from starter Joe Kennedy and more bullpen problems. Clint Barmes tied a team record with three doubles and had two RBI, and Desi Relaford was 3-for-5 with two RBI for Colorado, which has lost eight of 11.
"Our hitting wasn't very good after we scored four runs," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "The game was there to win and we didn't."
St. Louis broke a 6-all tie in the seventh inning after loading the bases against Blaine Neal (0-1). Pinch-hitter Larry Walker knocked in one run on a groundout and the other came in on a wild pitch by Byung-Hyun Kim.
Jason Isringhausen pitched the ninth for his 16th save this season and 21st straight overall. His last blown save came Sept. 17 against Arizona.
That was just enough for Morris, who allowed six runs -- five earned -- and 10 hits. Sure, he won for the first time in four starts in Denver, but still has a 7.50 ERA there.
"You are not going to win too many of those games with the way I pitched today," Morris said.
Morris' problems started early.
He gave up consecutive doubles to Barmes and Relaford for a run in the first inning, then walked Kennedy -- a .182 hitter -- with two outs in the second. Barmes followed with a bloop double, tying the game at 2-all.
Morris gave up four more runs in the fourth on J.D. Closser's sacrifice, Barmes' third double and run-scoring singles by Relaford and Todd Helton.
Morris still lasted until the sixth inning, when he was replaced by a pinch-hitter.
"Morris did a good job of hanging in there," La Russa said.
Kennedy had plenty of his own problems.
He gave up two runs in the first inning after Relaford turned a routine grounder into an error with a wide throw to first to open the game.
Kennedy gave up two more runs in the third inning and didn't last the fifth, leaving after Eckstein's leadoff single and So Taguchi's walk.
St. Louis tied it at 6-all on Grudzielanek's run-scoring single off Neal and Jim Edmonds' pinch-hit sacrifice fly.
Kennedy allowed six runs -- four earned -- and 11 hits in five innings after allowing seven runs in five innings his previous start.
"The offense got me six runs which is more than enough," Kennedy said. "The problem is me."
The Colorado record of three doubles in a game has been accomplished 25 times. 2B Aaron Miles last did it on April 4 against San Diego. ... Morris walked Matt Holliday to lead off the second inning, the first one he had allowed in 16 2/3 innings.
|Players of the Game|
St. Louis Cardinals Jersey Majestic #6 Musial
$99.95 Shop Now!
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|David Eckstein, SS||6||2||2||0||0||0||2||.302|
|So Taguchi, CF-RF||3||1||2||0||1||0||0||.241|
|a- Larry Walker, PH-RF||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||.253|
|Jason Isringhausen, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Albert Pujols, 1B||4||1||2||0||1||0||3||.327|
|Reggie Sanders, LF||5||0||0||0||0||2||5||.242|
|Mark Grudzielanek, 2B||5||1||4||2||0||0||0||.344|
|Scott Seabol, 3B||3||1||3||2||0||0||0||.286|
|b- Jim Edmonds, PH-CF||1||0||0||1||0||1||0||.280|
|Roger Cedeno, RF||3||0||1||1||0||1||4||.148|
|c- Abraham Nunez, PH-3B||2||0||0||0||0||1||2||.263|
|Yadier Molina, C||3||1||2||0||2||0||0||.257|
|Einar Diaz, PR-C||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.235|
|Matt Morris, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||3||.105|
|d- Jason Marquis, PH||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||.310|
|Randy Flores, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Julian Tavarez, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|e- John Mabry, PH-RF||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.266|
|a-grounded into a double play for Taguchi in the 7th|
|b-hit a sacrifice fly for Seabol in the 6th|
|c-grounded out for Cedeno in the 6th|
|d-singled for Morris in the 7th|
|e-struck out for Tavarez in the 9th|
|2B - Mark Grudzielanek (14, Kennedy), Scott Seabol (1, Kennedy)|
|SF - Jim Edmonds (3)|
|SH - Matt Morris (1)|
|RBI - Mark Grudzielanek 2 (22), Scott Seabol 2 (2), Jim Edmonds (33), Roger Cedeno (8)|
|2-OUT RBI - Mark Grudzielanek (6), Scott Seabol (1)|
|CS - Roger Cedeno (2, 2nd base by Kennedy/Closser)|
|Team LOB - 12|
|DP - Eckstein-Pujols, Eckstein-Grudzielanek-Pujols, Eckstein-Pujols|
|E - Roger Cedeno (2, wild throw), Jason Isringhausen (1, wild throw)|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Matt Morris (W,6-0)||6||10||6||5||2||1||0||3.81|
|Randy Flores (H,4)||1||1||0||0||0||1||0||4.08|
|Julian Tavarez (H,13)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||2.54|
|Jason Isringhausen (S,16)||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0.49|
|Pitches-Strikes - Matt Morris 88-58, Randy Flores 12-9, Julian Tavarez 10-7, Jason Isringhausen 12-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Morris 8-7, Randy Flores 1-0, Julian Tavarez 2-0, Jason Isringhausen 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Matt Morris 28, Randy Flores 3, Julian Tavarez 3, Jason Isringhausen 4|
|Clint Barmes, SS||5||2||3||2||0||0||1||.325|
|Desi Relaford, 2B||5||1||3||2||0||0||3||.326|
|Todd Helton, 1B||4||0||1||1||0||0||2||.258|
|Preston Wilson, CF||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.247|
|Bradley Hawpe, RF||3||0||0||0||0||1||1||.290|
|a- Dustan Mohr, PH-RF||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.203|
|Matt Holliday, LF||3||1||2||0||1||0||0||.291|
|Garrett Atkins, 3B||3||1||1||0||0||0||2||.267|
|Blaine Neal, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Byung-Hyun Kim, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Cory Sullivan, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.296|
|Matt Anderson, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|J.D. Closser, C||3||1||1||1||0||0||0||.191|
|Joe Kennedy, P||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.182|
|Luis Gonzalez, 3B||2||0||1||0||0||0||0||.284|
|a-struck out for Hawpe in the 8th|
|b-grounded out for Kim in the 8th|
|2B - Clint Barmes 3 (15, Morris, Morris, Morris), Desi Relaford (6, Morris), J.D. Closser (4, Morris)|
|SF - J.D. Closser (1)|
|SH - Joe Kennedy (2)|
|RBI - Clint Barmes 2 (29), Desi Relaford 2 (10), Todd Helton (20), J.D. Closser (9)|
|2-OUT RBI - Clint Barmes 2 (19), Desi Relaford (5), Todd Helton (8)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|DP - Barmes-Relaford-Helton|
|PB - J.D. Closser (1)|
|E - Desi Relaford (3, wild throw), Preston Wilson (3, misplayed grounder)|
|Blaine Neal (BS,1; L,0-2)||1||4||2||2||1||1||0||7.36|
|WP - Byung-Hyun Kim (6)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Joe Kennedy 102-66, Blaine Neal 24-13, Byung-Hyun Kim 27-17, Matt Anderson 12-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joe Kennedy 6-6, Blaine Neal 1-1, Byung-Hyun Kim 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Joe Kennedy 29, Blaine Neal 8, Byung-Hyun Kim 6, Matt Anderson 4|
|Attendance - 22266|
|Game Time - 2:58|
|Temperature - 75|
|Umpires - Home - Terry Craft, First Base - Ted Barrett, Second Base - Alfonso Marquez, Third Base - Rick Reed|