Craig’s two homers take down Colorado

Lohse stifles Rockies’ offense into 8th inning

$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$St. Louis’ Rafael Furcal scored on former Rockie Matt Holliday’s sacrifice fly in the sixth inning, and the Cardinals downed Wilin Rosario and Colorado 9-3 on Monday.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$ Enlarge photo

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$St. Louis’ Rafael Furcal scored on former Rockie Matt Holliday’s sacrifice fly in the sixth inning, and the Cardinals downed Wilin Rosario and Colorado 9-3 on Monday.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$

ST. LOUIS – Allen Craig is putting up All-Star numbers in about half the games.

Craig hit a pair of home runs, Carlos Beltran extended his RBI streak to a major league high nine games, and Kyle Lohse worked into the eighth inning of the St. Louis Cardinals’ 9-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.

“I am trying to make up for lost time,” Craig said. “Being on the DL’s not fun, and I’m trying to make the most of my opportunities. I feel like I’m in a good spot, just going out there and having fun.”

Matt Holliday had a homer and sacrifice fly, Jon Jay doubled and walked twice with a steal, and David Freese had three hits for the Cardinals, who punished a pitching staff that entered the game with a major league-worst 5.37 ERA.

Tyler Colvin and Wilin Rosario homered for the Rockies, who have dropped five of seven. Rosario homered for the third consecutive game, but Colorado pitchers totaled four wild pitches, eight walks and an error that allowed a run.

“When you walk eight guys, you don’t give yourself much of a chance to win,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “You just can’t do it; that’s what it boils down to.

“We’ve talked about that a lot, and there’s probably little else for us to say.”

Beltran, an NL All-Star game starter picked to participate in the home run derby, leads the league with 63 RBIs. He has 15 RBIs during the streak, including two on a sacrifice fly and groundout against Colorado.

Craig has 13 homers and 43 RBIs in 40 games in a season abbreviated by injury. He was awarded a bonus RBI single by Major League Baseball on Monday after review of a play originally ruled a fielding error, a one-hop liner that the Marlins’ Jose Reyes couldn’t handle at Miami on June 26.

“I did hear about that, actually,” Craig said. “I thought it was a really tough play for him.”

Lohse (8-2) worked seven or more innings for his fifth consecutive start, striking out five and walking two in 7 1/3 innings. He’s 3-0 with a 2.29 ERA in three starts against the Rockies the last two seasons.

“I’m feeling strong, doing the things I need to do to get quick innings,” Lohse said. “My slider was working really good, just about everything was.”

Lohse was tenacious at the plate, too, coaxing an 11-pitch walk out of Josh Outman in the second and singling in the fourth. Manager Mike Matheny said it’s a season best for the pitching staff.

Outman threw five of his first 10 pitches in the dirt and finished with two wild pitches and more balls (36) than strikes (34) in an abbreviated three-inning start, exiting with a 9.00 ERA. Outman, who played at suburban Lindbergh High School, gave up two runs and matched his career high with five walks.

The lefty hasn’t lasted more than five innings in any of his eight starts this season.

“It’s just been a comedy of mistakes on my part and falling behind in counts,” Outman said. “You see what good-hitting teams do in that scenario.”

The Cardinals took the lead in the first on two walks, two wild pitches and a sacrifice fly by Beltran. Holliday’s 13th homer in the third made it 2-0 before Colvin’s ninth of the season tied it in the fourth.

Craig put the Cardinals ahead for good with a two-run homer in the fifth off Tyler Chatwood (1-1), a drive to straightaway center estimated at 438 feet two pitches after a visit from co-pitching coach Bo McLaughlin. He wrapped up the scoring with a 416-foot homer off Matt Reynolds in the eighth.

The Rockies loaded the bases in the fifth on a pair of scratch hits and a walk to Carlos Gonzalez before Lohse got cleanup man Michael Cuddyer to pop out to shallow center on a full count slider.

“Nothing against him, he’s a good hitter,” Lohse said. “But he’s a guy I’d rather face in that situation than Gonzalez.”

Holliday had been 1-for-15 with one RBI the previous six games against his old team after batting .415 (17-for-41) with three homers and six RBIs his first 11 games against Colorado according to STATS LLC.

Colvin is 10-for-25 with two doubles, two triples, two homers and 10 RBIs the last seven games. Rosario, a rookie, leads NL catchers with 14 homers after connecting off Maikel Cleto in the ninth.