Cardinals Stopped by Francis, Rockies

From the Associated Press

When Yadier Molina's bloop single glanced off Cory Sullivan's glove in the sixth inning, the center fielder leaped to his feet in frustration.

Left-hander Jeff Francis, who had been working on a perfect game to that point, let out a sigh and a slight smile.

"There's a lot of anxiety involved when you have something going like that. When that ball dropped, it's almost a relief," Francis said. "You know, just concentrate on winning the game and that load comes off your shoulders."

Francis rolled right along, tossing a two-hitter for his first shutout, and the Colorado Rockies slowed down the St. Louis Cardinals with a 7-0 victory Monday night.

"That," Colorado Manager Clint Hurdle said, "was a masterpiece."

The Cardinals had homered in a franchise-record 19 straight games but came nowhere near the wall against Francis, who uses a strikingly similar delivery on all four of his pitches: two- and four-seam fastballs, a changeup and slider.

"He was throwing them all for strikes too," Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds said. "That makes for a tough night. He's one of those guys that hides the ball real well. He was throwing sneaky."

Coming off a three-game sweep of the Dodgers, the Cardinals managed to get only five balls out of the infield, including Molina's single in the sixth and Albert Pujols' line-drive double in the seventh.

"He just worked us over," Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa said. "He probably didn't even take a shower. I didn't see if he ever sweated. They probably could pitch him tomorrow. I hope he doesn't."

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