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Francis makes impact on mound and plate in victory

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- For at least one game, the Colorado Rockies
looked ready for the road.

Rookie Jeff Francis pitched three-hit ball for six innings and
Garrett Atkins and Danny Ardoin homered Thursday night in a 7-0
victory over the St. Louis Cardinals that gave the Rockies only
their sixth road victory of the season.

Francis (7-5) contributed two hits and scored twice for
Colorado, a major league-worst 6-31 on the road.

"Now we can count our road wins on two hands," manager Clint
Hurdle joked.

The start was the most feeble since the 1982 Twins went 5-32,
and the Rockies had dropped five straight and 11 of 12 away from
Coors Field while getting outscored 77-32.

Hurdle wasn't counting this one as a victory until pinch-hitter
Luis Gonzalez's two-run double in the eighth.

"Blowouts for other people aren't exactly blowouts for us,"
Hurdle said. "We don't take things for granted around here. They
have a good ballclub and they can jump up and bite you any time."

Dan Miceli, Jay Witasick and David Cortes each pitched an inning
and gave up a hit in finishing the Rockies' second shutout of the
season, neither on complete games, and first since June 10 against
the Tigers. It came in a game matching teams at the top and bottom
of the NL standings.

Albert Pujols had a single and two walks to extend his hitting
streak to 12 games for the Cardinals, who missed a chance to go to
a season-best 22 games above .500. After hitting 16 home runs in
the first six games of a 10-game homestand, the Cardinals advanced
only two runners to second base against Francis and totaled six
hits.

The 24-year-old left-hander entered 1-4 with a 7.21 ERA on the
road compared with 5-1 and 3.50 at home. He struck out six and
walked two, allowing three singles in the fourth but getting out of
the jam when Pujols tried to score from third on a single to
shallow left and was easily thrown out at the plate by Cory
Sullivan to end the inning.

"It's a dream to have a game like that where a lot of things
went my way," Francis said. "You can't really ask for anything
more."

Francis, who entered the game 1-for-25 at the plate with 12
strikeouts, singled and scored in the third and doubled over the
head of center fielder Jim Edmonds and scored in the fifth. That,
plus the fact he threw 30 of his 98 pitches while retiring the
heart of the Cardinals' order in the sixth, factored in his exit
after that inning.

"I don't think he was gassed, but he had to run the bases and
the offense hasn't really been a part of his game," Hurdle said.
"He might give you a nice clean seventh and it all sounds nice and
rosy, but again, it can go south on you."

Atkins hit his seventh homer off Jeff Suppan (7-7) in the second
and Ardoin hit his first leading off the third. Suppan, whose
four-inning outing matched his shortest of the season, also walked
home a run in the third and Aaron Miles' RBI single with none out
in the fifth chased him.

The Rockies were 9-for-20 against Suppan, who carried a
two-hitter into the ninth in his last start against the Pirates.
Suppan struck out three and walked two.

"I was trying to get in a groove, I was trying to get in a
tempo," Suppan said. "But I kept putting leadoff runners on
base."

Atkins, who added an RBI single off Cal Eldred in the fifth to
put the Rockies ahead 5-0, is batting .531 (17-for-32) during an
eight-game hitting streak with 11 RBI.

"I'm sure they're talking a little bit longer about him in
those pregame meetings than they were earlier," Hurdle said.
"He's given us an offensive jolt."

Game notes
LF Reggie Sanders made a barehanded stab on Brad Hawpe's
drive off the base of the wall in the fourth and made a strong
throw to second, holding him to a single. ... Pujols is batting
.409 (18-for-44) during his hitting streak with four homers. ...
The Rockies were 12-15 in June, their fifth straight losing month.
The Cardinals were 16-11 in June, their ninth straight winning
month. ... Todd Helton singled in the seventh and is 12-for-33
during a season-best nine-game hitting streak. ... The Rockies are
28-27 at Busch Stadium.