Hot battle between Cardinals, Rockies

DENVER — Two surging teams will meet when the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies begin a weekend series Friday.

The Cardinals (71-57), who were off Thursday, just completed their first three-game sweep at Dodger Stadium since 2006 to climb a season-high 14 games over .500. They are 17-4 this month and 24-11 under interim manager Mike Shildt, who replaced Mike Matheny on July 15.

The Cardinals have won eight straight road games and 13 of their past 15 games overall.

“It’s a hungry group,” Shildt told reporters Wednesday night after the Cardinals again came from behind to beat Los Angeles 3-1. “And once you have success, you want more. There is no satisfaction in this game. The game doesn’t rest or hold up for anybody. It’s a hungry group that shows up and builds on what they’ve done.”

Miles Mikolas (13-3, 2.80) will start for the Cardinals against Antonio Senzatela (4-3 4.47). The Cardinals are 18-7 in games started by Mikolas, who has the most wins of any pitcher in his first year with the Cardinals since Kyle Lohse went 15-6 in 2008. Mikolas has made nine straight starts without a loss, dating from July 4. During that stretch, he’s 5-0, 3.17 and has allowed four home runs in 54 innings.

St. Louis has won eight of those nine starts, including 3-2 Aug. 2 at Busch Stadium when Mikolas opposed Senzatela and held the Rockies to two runs (one earned) in seven innings but wasn’t involved in the decision.

The Rockies (70-57) on Thursday won the rubber game of their series with the Padres 4-3 when Ian Desmond hit a two-run walk-off homer. It was the seventh walk-off homer in franchise history when the Rockies were down to their final out.

The Rockies, who are one game behind Arizona in the National League West, have won 10 of their past 12 games, and nine of those victories have been come-from-behind wins, including five in which they were trailing after eight innings. The Rockies have three walk-off wins in their past five home games.

“I just sense from the time we walk through the clubhouse doors and we get together, there’s an expectation to win,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “No matter who we’re playing, night, day, rain, wind, cold, hot. Doesn’t matter. Our guys expect to win, and we’re going to play an entire game.”

Senzatela is 2-2, 3.60 in six starts since returning to the rotation July 3. He held the Cardinals to one run in six innings Aug. 2 in a no-decision at St. Louis and then went on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. Reinstated Saturday, Senzatela gave up two runs in five innings at Atlanta before the Rockies won 5-3 in 10 innings.

On Thursday, the Rockies selected the contract of left fielder Matt Holliday from Triple-A Albuquerque, where he hit .346 with three homers and 14 RBIs in 15 games after returning to the Rockies organization where he began his career. He went 0-for-3 and played six innings Thursday before being lifted for defensive purposes in his first appearance for the Rockies since Sept. 25, 2008.

A seven-time All-Star, Holliday spent 7 1/2 seasons with the Cardinals and played on six teams that advanced to the postseason, two that reached the World Series and one that won it. Holliday is expected to play left field occasionally and provide the Rockies with a right-handed power bat off the bench.

“I took this day to day,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect, how I would feel. The one thing I do have is experience. I’ve seen thousands of pitches and faced tons of pitchers over my career. I came into this with no expectations of how I would feel and how it would go. Really just taking it day-to-day, and I’ve been pleased with how it’s gone.”