Cardinals take on NL-leading Rockies in Colorado

Dexter Fowler singled to open Thursday’s loss to the Dodgers, then came around to score.

DENVER — The St. Louis Cardinals move from Los Angeles to Denver, where they will take on a Colorado Rockies team that returns home after going 7-3 on its longest road trip of the season.

Rookie Antonio Senzatela (6-1, 3.67 ERA) will start for the Rockies against Carlos Martinez (3-3, 3.28).

Colorado has the National League’s best record at 31-18. It is 11-2-2 in series after winning road sets at Minnesota, Cincinnati and Philadelphia to improve to an NL-best 18-8 away from home.

The Rockies are 13-10 at Coors Field, where they went 6-4 on their last homestand and where their stay will be rather brief — three games against the Cardinals and two against the Seattle Mariners. The Rockies are in the midst of a stretch that includes 22 of 29 games on the road from May 16-June 14.

The Cardinals are in their own unusual scheduling period. They play seven of 10 games against the Los Angeles Dodgers, a stretch broken up by the three games at Colorado.

St. Louis fell 7-3 in the rubber game of their series at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, the Cardinals’ sixth loss in eight games.

In his last start Saturday, Senzatela, 22, wasn’t involved in the decision in a 12-8 Colorado defeat at Cincinnati. He gave up five hits and a career-high four walks in five innings and left with an 8-4 lead after cracking the 100-pitch barrier for the first time at 105 pitches.

After working at least six innings in six straight outings, Senzatela has pitched five innings in each of his past two starts, giving up 12 hits, eight runs and seven walks with 10 strikeouts. In five starts at Coors Field, Senzatela is 4-1 with a 3.77 ERA. He has never faced the Cardinals.

Senzatela is one of four rookies to start this season for Colorado, a group that includes Kyle Freeman, German Marquez and Jeff Hoffman, who was recalled to make two spot starts in doubleheaders caused by rainouts. The Rockies are 19-7 in the 26 games started by the four rookies, and the quartet is a combined 16-5 with a 3.53 ERA.

“There is a poise to these young guys in the rotation,” Colorado manager Bud Black told the Denver Post. “These guys have a nice heartbeat. Their pulse is good. They don’t scare off. And the catchers have done a great job with the collaboration and the dialogue. It’s been good all over the place.”

Martinez has made nine starts, five of which the Cardinals have won. He is 1-2 with a 5.51 ERA in three starts on the road.

In his last start, Saturday against the San Francisco Giants, Martinez allowed two hits in a career-high nine scoreless innings but wasn’t involved in the decision when the Cardinals lost 3-1 in 13 innings. Opponents are hitting .205 overall against Martinez and .175 with runners in scoring position.

Martinez is 2-0 with a 6.97 ERA in seven career games (three starts) against the Rockies and 2-0 with a 5.54 ERA in three games (two starts) at Coors Field.

Cardinals center fielder Dexter Fowler, who began his career with the Rockies, broke an 0-for-20 slide when he led off Thursday’s game with a single. He is hitting .205 with a .302 on-base percentage in his first season with St. Louis after batting .276 with a career-high .393 on-base percentage with the Chicago Cubs last season. For his career, he owns a .268 batting average and a .366 on-base percentage.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said he contemplated moving Fowler out of the leadoff spot, but mindful of the veteran’s success there, would prefer to wait.

“I know the kind of hitter that he is and can be, so I just don’t come to too many conclusions and make too many radical adjustments right now,” Matheny told “You can’t take a month and a half of the season and say that our minds are made up.”

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