ST. LOUIS (AP)—The longer Jeff Suppan labored for his 100th career victory, the bigger the challenge seemed to become. He pushed the milestone into the back of his mind before his fifth try and finally got it.
“As a professional you try to go out there and treat it as any other game, and that was the way I trying to treat it,” Suppan said. “But I will say I’m glad it’s over.”
Aaron Miles added a two-run double for the Cardinals, who have won five of six and beat the Rockies for the fourth time in five games this season.
Suppan (6-4) beat Colorado for the second time this year and allowed two runs and five hits in 7 2-3 innings, including Matt Holliday’s team-leading 14th homer in the second. Garrett Atkins’ three-run homer with two outs in the eighth off Josh Hancock cut the deficit to two.
Jason Isringhausen gave up a solo homer to pinch-hitter J.D. Closser in the ninth before finishing up for his 23rd save in 27 chances.
Suppan, a 16-game winner each of the last two seasons with the Cardinals, is 100-98 for his career and joined teammate Mark Mulder in reaching the century mark this season with his first victory since May 21 at Kansas City. In his previous four starts he allowed 18 earned runs in 22 innings and never worked longer than six innings.
In his previous start he gave up three homers in four innings.
“He’s been motivated,” manager Tony La Russa said. “He might tell you no, but it’s just like trying to get that 100th RBI or something. All of a sudden it’s a distraction and it creates a certain pressure.
“He just went back to pitching and let the results take care of themselves.”
Encarnacion has been batting cleanup regularly since Albert Pujols went on the 15-day disabled list on June 4 with a strained right side muscle and is 17-for-37 (.459) with nine RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak. He hit a two-run homer off Jeff Francis (5-6) in the first and led off the fourth with his 10th homer, giving him his third career multihomer game and first since Sept. 24, 2002. Encarnacion also doubled in the eighth.
La Russa said Encarnacion just needed some time to adjust to his new team.
“There was a couple of times he popped up with the bases loaded and somebody hooted, but overall I think our fans were definitely giving him the benefit of the doubt,” La Russa said. “He’s rewarded them.”
Francis gave up six runs on six hits in six innings and fell to 2-1 for his career against the Cardinals. In the first two games, including May 8 in St. Louis, he allowed one run in 13 2-3 innings.
“I think the big difference was location,” Francis said. “I think it just shows how important it is for pitchers to get ahead.
“You fall behind, six runs in six innings.”
Holliday, who was 3-for-3, hit his third homer in six career at-bats against Suppan leading off the second to cut the Cardinals’ lead to 2-1. Suppan walked him on four pitches in the fourth to put runners on first and second with one out, and followed with another walk to Atkins before escaping when Brad Hawpe fouled out and Yorvit Torrealba grounded out.
Holliday is a career .488 hitter (21-for-43) against the Cardinals.
“It’s like a little league average,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
Encarnacion’s second homer put the Cardinals ahead 4-1 in the fourth, and Miles’ two-run double later in the inning made it 6-1.
Cardinals SS David Eckstein missed his second straight game with a mild concussion, but unlike Friday night he was in uniform. La Russa said Eckstein was “probable” to start on Sunday. … The Cardinals are 6-0 on June 17 in this decade. … Suppan is 4-1 for his career against the Rockies. … Scott Rolen was hitless in four at-bats and is 1-for-18 against the Rockies this season. … Cory Sullivan, who entered the game with six hits in seven at-bats against Suppan, was 0-for-4 against the right-hander. … Holliday leads the major leagues with 39 extra-base hits and 89 hits. … Paid attendance of 45,968 was the largest crowd at new Busch Stadium, every game a sellout.