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STL@COL: Rutledge rocks three-run shot to deep left

DENVER -- A less-than-favorable script unfolded for the Rockies on Tuesday night in an 11-6 loss at Coors Field, as the first four Cardinals each scored against starting pitcher Jeff Francis.

By the time the seventh inning rolled around, the Rockies were almost out of the hole, down one run. And then former Rockie Matt Holliday went yard, followed by David Freese. Just like that, the Rockies were down by four, and couldn't recover en route to their fourth straight loss and sixth straight at home in front of 31,297.

"That, in essence, put us back down three runs," manager Jim Tracy said of the Cards' homers in the seventh.

Francis (3-3) endured his roughest start since making his season debut June 9 against the Angels. He plunked Daniel Descalso to begin the game, surrendered a single to Allen Craig, then a two-run double to Holliday, who is 10-for-19 with three homers and 11 RBIs against Colorado.

"They jumped on us pretty good," Tracy said. "They're the best offensive club in the league; they keep coming at you. They threw four runs up in the first inning of the game."

Carlos Beltran punctuated the first-inning barrage with a two-run home run to left.

"A hanging curveball," Francis said. "A couple tough mistakes to some good hitters. Put us in a big hole and it was tough."

It was Beltran's 24th of the season and the sixth time he's homered in back-to-back games.

"We got good pitches to hit. I would say he was leaving the ball up in the strike zone," Beltran said. "When he's effective is when he's down in the strike zone. Today was one of those days that everything he left in the middle of the plate and up in the strike zone, we took advantage of that."

Colorado got half of it back in the bottom of the frame as Eric Young Jr., hitting leadoff in place of an ill Dexter Fowler, deposited a double over Holliday's head in left. Michael Cuddyer shot a double into right field to score Carlos Gonzalez, who had singled home Young.

Young's three hits tied a career high.

St. Louis' Skip Schumaker led off the second with a triple -- he'd score to make it 5-2 -- and Colorado's Jordan Pacheco began the second with his first of two doubles as six of the game's first 23 batters collected an extra-base hit.

Francis settled down in the third and fourth, retiring the six Cardinals he faced. His day ended after 56 pitches, with Tracy pinch-hitting Tyler Colvin with Pacheco on second in the fourth. Colvin was called out on strikes.

Francis was pitching on five days' rest -- long for the Rockies' four-man rotation -- but said he didn't feel any rust.

"Honestly, I felt good all day," Francis said. "But they took advantage of [me leaving the ball up in the zone]. And it put us in a big hole. After the first, I settled. Tried to battle as long as I could."

Francis' counterpart, Kyle Lohse (11-2), wasn't much better -- five earned runs in six innings -- but had an explosive offense behind him; the six runs the Cardinals provided were the second-most Lohse has received this year.

Josh Rutledge cranked a three-run homer off a Lohse sinker in the sixth to bring Colorado within one run. Rutledge, who has homered in consecutive games, is hitting .381 since his July 13 callup, and his 43 total bases lead all National League rookies over that span.

"I thought we did a pretty good job of getting back in the game," Tracy said.

Said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny: "It says a lot about this ballpark. You just have to keep playing. We just have to keep coming, especially in a park like this. There's never enough."

Reliever Adam Ottavino gave up three runs -- on homers by Holliday and Freese -- in the seventh and Mike Ekstrom was tagged for two more in the eighth.

"The bottom line is, 11 runs is a big number," Tracy said. "That's all there is to it."

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