ST. LOUIS – Maybe Sunday should be a day of rest for the Colorado Rockies.
The Rockies lost their 17th straight Sunday game, falling 6-2 to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night. Albert Pujols hit the longest home run at 6-year-old Busch Stadium and the Cardinals overcame an injury to starter Edwin Jackson with stellar bullpen work.
Colorado won its first two Sunday games against the Pirates and Cubs, but has come up empty since beating Chicago on April 17.
"It's kind of mind-boggling," shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "I don't think there's anything to it, it's just one of those things where it hasn't worked out."
Colorado manager Jim Tracy said the difference this Sunday was a lack of clutch hitting. The Rockies were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and 3 for 15 with runners on base.
"The question that I'm trying to make sense out of even more so is those opportunities offensively that have escaped us, where you've got multiple runners and you come away with nothing," Tracy said. "You've got people coming up there that you would absolutely want up there in those kinds of scenarios."
Yadier Molina had three hits, a walk and two RBIs for St. Louis, which took two of three from Colorado. The Cardinals remained five games behind NL Central-leading Milwaukee with 42 games to go, six of them against the Brewers.
Mark Ellis homered in the first for the Rockies, who have lost four of five. Esmil Rogers (6-2) issued a career-high seven walks, one intentional, in five innings. Colorado has lost six of seven in St. Louis and trails the series 82-81.
Pujols passed teammate Lance Berkman during a three-hit game with his National League-leading 29th homer in the first, a two-run drive estimated at 465 feet that soared over the visitor's bulllpen and cleared the left field bleachers. The homer sparked a four-run first that matched the Cardinals' season best for that inning.
Jason Motte entered with a 3-0 count against Ty Wigginton and two men on with one out in the sixth after Jackson was hurt during his 98th pitch, an injury the team described late in the game as a cramp. Wigginton flied out on a full count, and Chris Ianetta hit a comebacker to end the threat.
The Rockies loaded the bases with one out in the seventh against two pitchers and their 4-5 hitters coming up before being thwarted by Octavio Dotel, who struck out Tulowitzki and caught Todd Helton looking on a curveball. The 37-year-old Dotel retired five in a row, four on strikeouts.
"I wasn't sitting on anything," Tulowitzki said. "I was relaxed, put a good swing on it. Sometimes it doesn't go your way, it's just kind of how it's been.
"We haven't got that big hit when needed but I love to be up in that situation."
Molina and Skip Schumaker gave the Cardinals breathing room with run-scoring singles in the seventh off Edgar Gonzalez, making his first major league appearance since Sept. 27, 2009, when he was with Oakland.
Jackson (2-1) has a 4.62 ERA in four starts over 25 1-3 innings with six homers since coming to St. Louis in a deal that sent outfielder Colby Rasmus to the Blue Jays. The right-hander needed 37 pitches to get through the first inning but trailed only 2-0 after striking out Ianetta with the bases loaded, and allowed two runs in 5 1-3 innings.
The first four Cardinals to reach base scored against Rogers. But St. Louis left the bases loaded in the third when Rafael Furcal flied out on the first pitch after Rogers walked Jackson and stranded two in the fifth when Skip Schumaker grounded into a double play.
Though Rogers has a 6.00 ERA, he lost for the first time since April 18 against the Giants.
Notes: Furcal turned an exceptional double play at shortstop in the fourth, snaring Ianetta's grounder behind second, reaching back to tag second and then finishing with a strong relay. ... The Cardinals begin a three-game series at Pittsburgh on Monday night, with Jake Westbrook (9-6, 4.74) facing James McDonald (7-6, 4.24) in the opener. Westbrook has a 75.5 percent ground ball ratio, best in the majors, since joining the Cardinals at the trade deadline last season. ... Kevin Milwood (0-1, 3.86) makes his second start for the Rockies, who return home to face the Marlins and Clay Hensley (1-4, 4.50).