With offense percolating, Rockies open trip at St. Louis (Jul 24, 2017)

BY AP • July 24, 2017

ST. LOUIS -- No team in baseball has been more productive on offense since the All-Star break than the Colorado Rockies.

Plating 74 runs off 98 hits in its last seven games, six of which ended with wins, Colorado jumped over the Arizona Diamondbacks for second place in the National League West and into the NL's first wild-card spot.

The Rockies (58-42) take their scorching offense into Busch Stadium on Monday night to open a three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals (47-51).

A 13-3 rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday enabled Colorado to tie a franchise record for most runs scored in a seven-game span. The Rockies further distanced themselves from a 5-15 stretch that saw them fall far off the Los Angeles Dodgers' blistering pace atop the division.

A week of battering San Diego and Pittsburgh pitching has the Rockies feeling good about themselves as they start a six-game road trip that also takes them to Washington to visit the NL East-leading Nationals.

"As a group, top to bottom, we're having good at-bats right now and we're hard to get out," Colorado center fielder Charlie Blackmon said. "And that can produce a lot of runs. That's what's happened the last few games."

Blackmon clubbed one of five homers by the Rockies on Sunday. Mark Reynolds cracked two, and Trevor Story and Pat Valaika also went deep as Colorado battered Ivan Nova for a season-high seven runs in five-plus innings.

Tasked with keeping the Colorado powerful attack in check is St. Louis right-hander Mike Leake (6-8, 3.39 ERA), who was leading the NL in earned-run average on Memorial Day but is just 1-6 with a 5.04 ERA in his past 10 outings.

Leake lasted only two innings Wednesday night in a 7-3 road defeat to the New York Mets, giving up 10 hits and seven runs, four of them earned. He has pitched just 10 2/3 innings over his past three outings, permitting 26 hits and 17 runs, although only nine of the runs were earned thanks to shaky defense.

Following the loss on Wednesday night, Leake disclosed that he has not been pitching at full strength. Leake contracted shingles late last season, and he said the weight and strength lost due to the illness still hasn't fully returned.

"All I know is my body feels different every start," he told MLB.com. "I try to do the best I can with what I'm given each day. It's a matter of getting these kinks worked out and being able to get the strength back."

Leake is 1-2 with a 7.52 ERA in four career starts against the Rockies, who have pelted him for 37 hits and 17 runs over 20 1/3 innings.

Colorado counters with rookie right-hander Antonio Senzatela (10-3, 4.67). He returned to the rotation after the All-Star break with a 9-7 win Tuesday night against San Diego, permitting four hits and four runs, three earned, in five innings.

Senzatela was moved to the bullpen for three games prior to the break as the organization sought to manage his innings so that he would be able to take his regular turn over the season's second half.

His best start of the year might have occurred against the Cardinals on May 26, when he worked eight shutout innings in a 10-0 victory, giving up only five hits and fanning three. Senzatela's power sinker induced four double plays.

St. Louis might not have leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter (quad) available after he left the Sunday night game before the bottom of the second inning. He is listed as day-to-day.



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