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."
"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: a two- and four-seam fastball, changeup and slider.
"He was throwing them all for strikes, too," 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."
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."
Francis (8-8) retired his first 15 batters and got Molina to chase a fastball cutting off the plate leading off the sixth. Molina got just enough wood on it to punch it over second base, and the only one with a chance at it was Sullivan, who dived and got his glove on the ball only to watch it scoot underneath him.
"That exact play went through my head right before he hit it," Sullivan lamented. "I thought, don't give up the bloop single on a changeup. Unfortunately, I was playing a step too deep and I just couldn't get there."
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, including 10 to the final batter, Chris Duncan, who grounded out to first on a full count.
"I've never been so out of breath," Francis said.
Pujols doubled off Francis in the seventh but was stranded at third when second baseman Jamey Carroll made a diving stop of Juan Encarnacion's grounder up the middle to preserve the shutout.
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.
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, and Sullivan added his second sacrifice fly. Barmes, who has hit in 12 straight games, led off the seventh with his seventh homer.
The Rockies hope this performance jump-starts them for a nice 10-game homestand after a 2-8 trip.
"We didn't play well on the road and that was a brutal trip, but we didn't lose much ground," Sullivan said. "Now, we can move on."
And remember what might have been had he been playing a step closer against Molina.
- The Cardinals' last seven-game road winning streak was July 18-30, 2004.
- The shutout was the fourth by a Rockies pitcher this season (Jason Jennings twice and Josh Fogg), tying a franchise record set in 2001.