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On fireworks night at Coors Field, Harrison Bader provided the pyrotechnics.
The Cardinals’ center fielder hit the first grand slam of his career — a no-doubter, complete with bat flip — off of right-hander Yency Almonte as St. Louis rallied for a 9-3, 10-inning victory over the Rockies on Friday.
Ageless catcher Yadier Molina lit the fuse for St. Louis’ six-run outburst in the 10th. After hitting a two-run homer in the second inning, Molina’s two-out single up the middle was the go-ahead run and also proved to be the game-winner.
The Rockies were on the verge of their fifth consecutive victory until its taxed bullpen collapsed. And it didn’t help that that Colorado’s clutch hitting was a dud. The Rockies finished 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
With usual closer Daniel Bard unavailable, manager Bud Black turned to right-hander Justin Lawrence in the ninth. Looking for his first career save, Lawrence notched two outs, but he also walked two, setting himself up for disaster. Sure enough, pinch hitter Jose Rondo roped a single to left field to score Tommy Edman, tying the game, 3-3.
The Rockies, who’ve lately been a formidable team at Coors Field, got a solid start by Chi Chi Gonzalez and another home run from the resurgent Elias Diaz, but it wasn’t nearly enough on a perfect summer night in LoDo.
Star third baseman Nolan Arenado, traded from Colorado to St. Louis in February, has not been a factor in the first two games of the series. After going 0-for-4 Thursday night, he was 0-for-3 on Friday before lining a two-out single to center in the eighth. Arenado, selected to his sixth All-Star Game, is hitting .263.
In the second inning, Molina crushed Gonzalez’s 1-1 cutter deep into the left-field seats, putting St. Louis ahead 2-0. Molina, 38, now has eight home runs. After his homer, however, Gonzalez snuffed out the Cardinals for the next five innings.
Over his seven innings, Gonzalez allowed seven hits, and although he only struck out one, he didn’t walk a batter and coaxed seven groundball outs.
The right-hander continued Colorado’s remarkably solid starting pitching. Over the last 10 games, Rockies starters have allowed just 11 earned runs, good for a 1.52 ERA.
Colorado trimmed the Cardinals’ lead to 2-1 in the second on Charlie Blackmon’s leadoff single and Ryan McMahon’s RBI groundout. The Rockies tied the game, 2-2, in the fifth on Diaz’s 436-foot solo homer off of Johan Oviedo. It was Diaz’s fourth consecutive game with a home run, making him the first catcher in franchise history to accomplish that feat in the same season.
The Rockies took a 3-2 in the sixth on back-to-back doubles by McMahon and C.J. Cron, two previously hot hitters whose bats had gone chilly over the last few weeks.