With the internet polls about to close on the vote for the 34th and final berth on the All-Star Game squads in both leagues, National League leader David Freese made his final plea Wednesday night.
Freese, the Most Valuable Player in the NL Championship Series and the World Series last year, stroked a bases-loaded single on an 0-2 count to provide the insurance runs in a 4-1 win over Colorado and run his RBI total to an impressive 50 one game into the second half of the season.
Left fielder Matt Holliday, the hottest hitter in the game, probably won’t be on the NL squad unless there are a couple of injuries but he had three more hits — a double and two singles. He is a scalding 33 for his last 64 since June 16 and has jumped his average to .319.
“I’m not missing good pitches to hit,” said Holliday. “Sometimes when you’re struggling, you hit over the top of the ball and you foul them back. Now I’m doing a decent job of hitting the ball hard.”
Manager Mike Matheny said, “He certainly looks like a different hitter.”
Holliday also helped save a run in the first by making a sliding stop in the outfield although he later let a ball get by him for a triple that helped to account for the Rockies’ lone run.,
None of the Cardinals’ pitchers who worked Wednesday will be on the All-Star club but they all pitched at a high level.
Right-hander Adam Wainwright, whose earned run average against Colorado already was well under 2.00, held the Rockies to one run in six innings. He allowed eight hits but just and one walk and fanned seven.
The bigger news was the work of the bullpen. Right-hander Maikel Cleto, just recalled from Class AAA Memphis, fanned the first two men he faced in the seventh and then benefited from a dazzling, over-the-shoulder catch by center fielder Jon Jay, who reached high to make the play.
Left-hander Marc Rzepcznski, who has been erratic all season, went through three left-handed batters in the Colorado eighth, fanning left fielder Carlos Gonzalez and right fielder Tyler Colvin. Jason Motte got his 18th save in 22 tries, also fanning two in the ninth. Cardinals pitchers struck out 13 for the night.
The much-discussed bullpen has fanned 19 and walked only one in the last five games. “We’ve been talking all season about working ahead in the count,” Matheny said. “We’ve been talking about Clerto getting tougher assignments. And I don’t think Zep’s had a tougher one, coming in and doing what he did.”
— SS Rafael Furcal was the middle man on an unusual 3-6-5 double play to end the sixth and take RHP Adam Wainwright, the winning pitcher, out of a tough spot. With runners at first and second and out, Colorado SS Jonathan Herrera hit a line drive to the right of Cardinals 1B Allen Craig, who could not hold on to the ball but recovered quickly to throw to second for the force out as the Rockies’ runners froze. Furcal, taking the throw at second, alertly looked toward third and saw Colorado 3B Chris Nelson trapped between second and third. Furcal threw to Cardinals 3B David Freese, who, with the force off, tagged Nelson for the final out. “Raffy’s a veteran and he’s got great instincts to assess the situation,” said manager Mike Matheny.
— RHP Adam Wainwright gained his seventh win by pitching six durable innings, scattering eight hits. “Today I made pitches with two outs and the last time I didn’t. That’s the difference in a great outing and a bad one,” said Wainwright. He said he helped fight the heat by staying hydrated and eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a protein bar.
— LHP Jaime Garcia, who had been shut down with shoulder problems, threw 40 pitches from 60 feet on flat ground for the first time in a month. “It felt really good,” Garcia said. “I can definitely tell a big difference already.”
— RHP Kyle McClellan (elbow strain), who threw from flat ground for the first time the day before, reported he felt good Wednesday. He could be back in early August.
— RHP Lance Lynn will make his last start before he goes to the All-Star Game when he faces Colorado in the finale of the four-game series Thursday night. Lynn has given up 17 runs over 15 1/3 innings in his last three starts, none of them wins.
BY THE NUMBERS:20-19 — Cardinals’ record at home.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s a zapping kind of heat. It takes your energy out.” — RHP Adam Wainwright on the continued steamy weather in St. Louis. It was 103 degrees at game time Wednesday.