Game Report: Cardinals 5, Rockies 3

Having a starting pitcher only go five innings usually does not produce positive results.

But for Carlos Martinez and the Cardinals Monday night, it was long enough for him to accomplish two things – hit a key two-run double and pick up his 15th win of the season – in the victory over the Rockies in Denver.

Martinez’s double, his first extra-base hit of the season, broke a 2-2 tie in the fourth inning and helped the Cardinals win their third game in a row and move closer to a wild-card spot.

The win, combined with losses by both the Mets and the Giants, left the three teams just one game apart in the battle for the two wild-card spots. The Mets have a record of 80-70 and have a one-game lead over both the Cardinals and  Giants, with records of 79-71. The Giants could not hold a 1-0 lead in the ninth inning and lost 2-1 to the Dodgers. All three teams have 12 games left in the regular season.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: The Cardinals took a 2-1 lead in the third on a double by Jedd Gyorko and Randal Grichuk’s 23rd homer of the season … After the Rockies tied the game, Gyorko ignited a two-out rally in the fourth with a single, followed by an error on Nolan Arenado before Martinez lined his double down the left-field line. Martinez then scored on a single by Matt Carpenter … The best chance to add to their lead came in the fifth, when Yadier Molina tried to score from first on a two-out double by Jhonny Peralta but was thrown out easily at the plate.

On the mound:
Martinez gave up a run in the first and one in the third. He allowed five hits, walked three and struck out six as he threw 102 pitches before coming out of the game … Zach Duke stranded two runners he inherited from Matt Bowman in the sixth and threw a 1-2-3 seventh … Kevin Siegrist ran into trouble in the ninth, as he gave up a pinch-hit home run to Ryan Rayburn and a single to Charlie Blackmon before walking Carlos Gonzalez on a 3-2 pitch with two outs to bring the potential winning run to the plate, but he was able to retire Arenado on a line drive to left to earn his third save.

Key stat:
This was Martinez’s third win this season when he pitched five innings. Cardinal starters have had 28 games this season when they pitched just five innings, and have earned the win in just eight of those games … It also was only the third time since 2007 that a Cardinal starter won a game in Colorado in which he pitched only five innings, following similar wins by Joe Kelly in 2013 and Jake Westbrook in 2011.

Of note: Matt Holliday took regular batting practice before Monday night’s game, but another attempt at seeing him hit during “live” BP against a pitcher has not been scheduled … Martinez was hit on the leg by a pitch in his first at-bat. He also had been the last Cardinal pitcher to be hit while batting, on June 23, 2015 … Siegrist is the first Cardinal reliever to allow 10 home runs in a season since Jason Motte did it in 2009.

Looking ahead:
Adam Wainwright will get the start in the second game of the series Tuesday night while Jorge De La Rosa is scheduled to start for the Rockies.