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Cardinals Stopped by Francis, Rockies

July 25, 2006|From the Associated Press

DENVER — 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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