Izzy unable to save day for Redbirds
Friday, June 3, 2005
DENVER -- It takes more than one big hit to break out of the kind of slump Todd Helton has been in lately. Still, this was a pretty big hit, and it came against a darn good pitcher.
Helton tied the game with a two-run single with the bases loaded in the ninth, and Brad Hawpe followed with the winning walk Thursday to help the Colorado Rockies defeat St. Louis 8-7, handing Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen his first blown save of the season.
"There's a long way to go until the burden is lifted," Helton said. "But it's a long season and I guess you have to start somewhere."
Coming into the game, Helton was batting .258 and in a 4-for-54 slump. This season, he was 8-for-46 with runners in scoring position. Against Isringhausen, he fouled off three pitches before he sent a 3-2 pitch into right field to tie it at 7.
The Cardinals intentionally walked Matt Holliday -- who had two homers and a double -- then brought in Randy Flores to face Hawpe, who walked on five pitches.
Isringhausen (0-1) suffered his first blown save in 22 tries dating to last season. It was the reliever's first blemish in a season in which he had converted all 16 of his save opportunities and allowed only one earned run.
"I don't care what he's hitting -- .258, whatever," Isringhausen said. "You never want Helton up there with the bases loaded. He fought off some good pitches on 3-2. Give him credit."
So Taguchi hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh to put the Cardinals ahead 6-5, and St. Louis added a run off Brian Fuentes (1-3) in the ninth.
The Rockies couldn't score in the eighth with the bases loaded and no outs, but came through an inning later under much more difficult circumstances -- against one of the best relievers in the game.
"It happens," Isringhausen said. "Nothing worked today. It was one of those nights. I'm used to this."
Preston Wilson led off with a single and Clint Barmes followed with another base hit. Isringhausen walked Desi Relaford to set things up for Helton, the only bona fide star on a team that improved to just 16-36.
"He's too good a hitter to hit .250 for too long," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's been unbearable the last two weeks. He's worked, watched video, worked on things in the cage."
He came through with a sharp single to right and, after Holliday's walk, Hawpe ended the game without making contact.
"It wasn't a competitive pitch," Flores said of the fourth ball he threw to Hawpe.
Until the finish, this looked like another squandered chance for the Rockies, who issued eight walks and never led until the end.
Instead, the Colorado bullpen improved to 3-13 this season and Holliday was able to enjoy his second career multihomer game.
That the comeback came against Isringhausen made it even more enjoyable. This was the closer's third appearance in four days against the Rockies, and many who faced him in the game-winning rally had seen him earlier in the week.
"You go up with a little better idea of what he's throwing and how it moves," Holliday said. "I don't think we saw anything to make us think we could get to him, other than having seen him the last two days."
Cory Sullivan also had three hits, although in his biggest at-bat he hit a soft liner to second for an easy double play to end the eighth.
Scott Seabol had a two-run single to put the Cardinals ahead 2-0 in the first. Albert Pujols and Abraham Nunez each had two hits for the Cardinals.
Taguchi replaced Jim Edmonds in center field in the sixth inning after Edmonds irritated the left ankle he had sprained previously. He was day to day. The Cardinals begin a three-game series in Houston on Friday.
Rockies starter Shawn Chacon returned after missing a start with a sprained ankle and worked five innings, allowing seven hits and five runs.
Meanwhile, Helton only went 1-for-5. He's hoping that one hit did more than just help win a game.
"Hopefully, I can have something to build on," he said. "I won't wake up thinking about my stance and won't go to sleep thinking about it."
Notes: The game was twice delayed by rain for a total of 2 hours, 1 minute. ... After hitting home runs in three consecutive games against Washington, Edmonds went 1-for-12 in the four games against Colorado. The only hit was a bunt single. ... With three wild pitches, the Rockies padded their NL-leading total to 28.