Francis gives Rockies peak performance
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
DENVER -- Jeff Francis threw a two-hitter for his first shutout and the Colorado Rockies slowed down the St. Louis Cardinals with a 7-0 victory Monday night.
Francis (8-8) took a perfect game into the sixth, when catcher Yadier Molina blooped a single into shallow right-center just out of the reach of diving center fielder Cory Sullivan, who got his glove on the ball only to watch it scoot underneath him.
Francis, whose longest outing before Monday night was 7 2/3 innings, matched a career high with eight strikeouts and didn't walk a batter. He threw 129 pitches.
Garrett Atkins and Clint Barmes homered for Colorado, which won for only the third time in 11 games since the All-Star break.
The Cardinals, who had won six straight road games and four in a row overall, dropped to 8-3 since the break.
Francis retired his first 15 batters, only a couple of whom came close to reaching base. Chris Duncan sent a full-count fastball up the middle in the fourth that second baseman Jamey Carroll made a nice play on, then spun to get the runner by a step.
In the fifth, Jim Edmonds swiped at a high fastball for strike three, then raced to first when the ball got past catcher Yorvit Torrealba, whose one-hopper to first base just beat Edmonds for the third out.
Otherwise, Francis, who is fond of saying he doesn't have enough oomph on his fastball to overpower anybody, threw his fastball, changeup and slider with precision.
Albert Pujols doubled off Francis in the seventh but was stranded at third when Carroll made a diving stop of Juan Encarnacion's grounder up the middle to preserve the shutout.
St. Louis rookie Anthony Reyes (2-4) allowed six runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings.
Atkins staked Francis to a quick 2-0 lead in the first when he hit his 14th homer, a two-run shot that traveled an estimated 447 feet. Sullivan's sacrifice fly an inning later made it 3-0. Barmes led off the third with a triple and scored when second baseman Hector Luna's relay got past third baseman Scott Rolen for a throwing error.
Reyes left after Torrealba's RBI triple made it 5-0 in the sixth. Sullivan added his second sacrifice fly.
Barmes led off the seventh with his seventh homer.
* The Cardinals' last seven-game road winning streak was July 18 to 30, 2004.
* Colorado finished with 10 hits.