Nolan Arenado got the heavy lifting done early Tuesday night, blasting a first-inning, two-run homer to the left field concourse that took a single, high hop and promptly exited the stadium.
Arenado’s home run, the longest of his career at 482 feet, carried the Rockies to a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in the series opener. It also gave Colorado just its second win over its last 13 games in front of a largely pro-Cardinals crowd at Coors Field, where right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez delivered his best outing of the season.
The Rockies had lost each of Gonzalez’s first nine starts, a club record, but the lack of home offense didn’t deter the right-hander from a win this time. Gonzalez tossed six innings of one-run ball in a quality start, with four strikeouts and no walks as he looked sharp from his opening one-two-three inning.
St. Louis finally got on the board in the fourth inning, when Paul Goldschmidt’s RBI single scored Dexter Fowler to cut the score to 2-1. Then Gonzalez, facing the telltale moment of his outing in the fifth, secured his solid outing by getting out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam that was complicated by a Daniel Murphy throwing error earlier in the frame.
Michael Wacha was solid for St. Louis aside from the Arenado homer he gave up, while the Cardinals’ bullpen did its job by blanking the Rockies for the final four innings. Arenado’s homer was his 38th of the season and made him the fourth player to amass 500 extra-base hits in a Colorado uniform, joining Larry Walker, Todd Helton and Carlos Gonzalez.
And while Gonzalez shined, the bullpen didn’t implode. Bryan Shaw started the seventh inning on a shaky note by putting two runners on via a walk and a hit by pitch. But Shaw, followed by Carlos Estevez, got the Rockies out of the jam.
Then, Jairo Diaz recorded the two-inning save by throwing up zeros in the eighth and ninth. It was Diaz’s second save of the season as he continues to audition for a likely back-end bullpen role next year.