DENVER — Thursday’s Game Report: Rockies 5, Cardinals 2
The evening began with Rockies fans on their feet cheering the return of Nolan Arenado to Denver for the first time as a visiting player.
Nine innings later they were on their feet again, cheering for a far different reason.
Elias Diaz, the Rockies catcher and eighth-place hitter, hit a three-run walk-off homer on an 0-2 pitch from Giovanny Gallegos that gave the Rockies the win and snapped the Cardinals’ three-game winning streak.
Gallegos, who came in to start the ninth inning after eight brilliant innings from Adam Wainwright, retired the first two batters he faced before issuing consecutive walks that brought Diaz to the plate.
It was the first walk-off homer allowed by the Cardinals this season.
Arenado was hitless in four at-bats, failing to get the ball out of the infield.
Before the game it was announced that Arenado had won the fan voting and will be the starting third baseman for the National League in the All-Star game, which will be on July 13 in Denver.
Here is how Thursday night’s game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals scored in the third on a triple by Tommy Edman and a single by Paul DeJong before Paul Goldschmidt led off the third with his 12th homer of the year … They had only three hits after that, including a double and single from Tyler O’Neill, and only advanced one runner to second base. O’Neill’s bid for a home run was caught at the center-field wall to end the eighth … Harrison Bader was in the lineup for the first time since May 24 and was hitless in four at-bats.
On the mound: Wainwright scattered six hits over his eight innings, giving up a two-run homer in the second following a leadoff walk. He allowed just one runner from the fourth through the eighth innings, and that man was erased on a double play. He had four strikeouts in his 111-pitch outing. Wainwright’s no-decision ended his streak of nine consecutive starts with a win against the Rockies, the longest streak by a Cardinals pitcher against any one team since Chris Carpenter won 10 consecutive starts against the Reds between 2006 and 2010 … Gallegos had allowed only two homers this season, just one since April 12. He has issued only one walk in his previous 11 innings.
Key stat: Diaz’s homer was the fifth walk-off homer all-time by the Rockies against the Cardinals. The last two came in back-to-back games in 2010, off Ryan Franklin and Evan MacLane.
Worth noting: With Bader back in the lineup, this marked only the fourth time in the first 82 games this season that the Cardinals started what they had projected would be their regular starting lineup coming out of spring training. Bader played only his 23rd game … Lars Nootbaar was optioned to Memphis to clear a spot for Bader. The main reason for the decision, manager Mike Shildt said, was that there was not a path to consistent at-bats for Nootbaar coming off the bench, and the Cardinals want him to get those at-bats in Memphis … Another lefthanded reliever, T.J. McFarland, was signed as a free agent and assigned to Memphis. He had been released by the Nationals … The Cardinals did bring a taxi squad on this 10-game trip.
Looking ahead: Johan Oviedo will continue his quest for his first career win when he makes the start on Friday night in the second game of the series. It will be his 15th career start over the last two years, his 10th this season, when he has gone 0-4 with five no-decisions.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains