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Adam Wainwright picks up 18th win as Cardinals end 3-game skid

ST. LOUIS -- Adam Wainwright snapped out of a midseason funk with a complete game in his previous start for St. Louis, and Colorado saw a pitcher who still had shutdown stuff.

"When I'm cruising, I'm ahead in the count, throwing all my pitches for strikes, trusting my defense and pounding the bottom of the zone," Wainwright said after earning his 18th win in the Cardinals' 5-1 victory on Friday night. "So, doing those things, usually things work out right."

Matt Holliday hit a long three-run homer to left in the first inning for the Cardinals, who stopped a three-game losing streak. The distance of Holliday's 17th homer was estimated at 467 feet.

"It's fun to hit one like that," Holliday said. "I hit that about as good as I can hit a ball."

Wainwright (18-9) allowed one run and six hits in eight innings with eight strikeouts and no walks. He retired his final 16 batters while improving to 7-1 against Colorado and matching Clayton Kershaw and Johnny Cueto for the major league lead in wins.

Wainwright noted that Colorado's lineup is not as formidable without Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.

"They're missing two of the best hitters in baseball and they're still a very good lineup," Wainwright said. "Guys all through the order can hit home runs."

Holliday ended a nine-game RBI drought and homered for the first time this month, sending a drive off Jorge De La Rosa (13-11) into Big Mac Land beyond left field. It was the second-longest homer at 9-year-old Busch Stadium behind Holliday's 469-foot drive against the Chicago Cubs' Ryan Dempster on July 20, 2012.

The NL Central-leading Cardinals stayed 2 1/2 games ahead of second-place Pittsburgh.

De La Rosa allowed four runs -- three earned -- and four hits in six innings. Colorado has scored just three runs during a four-game losing streak. They had been shut out the previous two games in New York against the Mets.

"We had a lot of good at-bats," said eighth-place hitter D.J. LeMahieu, who was 0 for 4 with nothing out of the infield. "We lined out three or four times. We definitely had better at-bats than the New York series, that's for sure."

De La Rosa got off to a rough start. He walked Matt Carpenter and gave up Randal Grichuk's infield hit before Holliday connected.

"I didn't have my best stuff," De La Rosa said. "I tried to make them put the ball in the play and my only mistake was to Holliday. It was supposed to be away and he hit it really good."

Colorado, which entered first in the NL with a .274 average and 665 runs, went 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position. Nolan Arenado's RBI double off the base of the left-field wall in the third ended a 21-inning scoreless drought on what Wainwright described as perhaps the "best swing I've ever seen on my curveball on a ball that was about 56 feet."

Yadier Molina's RBI double in the eighth was his first extra-base hit since July 9. Grichuk had a hit and a walk and is batting .414 (12 for 29) since being recalled Aug. 29.

St. Louis has won 20 of its last 28 against the Rockies.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rockies: 1B Justin Morneau was taken out before the bottom of the sixth with left intercostal soreness and is day to day.

Cardinals: RHP Michael Wacha, struggling to regain form after nearly two months on the DL with a shoulder injury, will be pushed back in the rotation. Rookie LHP Marco Gonzales will start instead on Sunday.

UP NEXT

Rockies: Franklin Morales (6-7, 5.21 ERA) pitched six scoreless innings against the Padres his last start.

Cardinals: Shelby Miller (9-9, 3.83 ERA) has thrown 14 consecutive scoreless innings his last two starts and is 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA in two career outings against Colorado.

WHO NEEDS LUCK?

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny shaved off his beard after St. Louis lost three of four at Cincinnati. He joked it was "by demand."