The Cardinals bullpen then allowed four runs in the eighth inning, helped by a pop foul that first baseman Albert Pujols misjudged and should have caught (Colorado's Garrett Atkins, getting a second chance, walked and scored a run).
But Wainwright didn't argue with manager Tony La Russa pulling him.
"(La Russa) made the right decision," said Wainwright, still 3-1. "It's tough to pitch in this atmosphere. It's important not to overwork here."
The losing pitcher was closer Jason Isringhausen, who had spotless saves in his previous two appearances after struggling most of the season. Isringhausen gave up a run-scoring single to Ryan Spilborghs and a two-run, opposite-field triple to Chris Iannetta.
"The first one was a groundball," said Isringhausen, who has blown four of 15 save opportunities. "I'll throw that pitch every time and take my chances.
"I'm not unhappy with the way I threw. I'm unhappy with the results. I threw the pitches I wanted to throw and where I wanted to throw them."
But the result was the Cardinals' first loss in three games in this series and only their second in the last eight games.
ROCKIES 4, CARDINALS 3: The Cardinals bullpen misfired on three counts, as Kyle McClellan, Randy Flores and Jason Isringhausen all allowed at least one run in a four-run Colorado eighth inning. Ryan Ludwick, 7-for-9 in the series, drove in two of the Cardinals' runs with a home run and a sacrifice fly.
NOTES AND QUOTES
--LHP Mark Mulder, after being examined in St. Louis by Dr. George Paletta, the Cardinals' medical supervisor, has been told to take a break from pitching for seven to 10 days to rest what has been described as a "mild rotator cuff strain." Mulder, who has made five rehabilitation starts as he continues his bid to bounce back from two shoulder surgeries, had complained of shoulder fatigue after his last outing, Monday night in Memphis. He allowed seven runs in six innings in that game. His rehabilitation option was to expire on May 14, so now he will have another week or so to use later.
--1B Albert Pujols reached base for the 35th consecutive game when he singled in the seventh inning Wednesday.
--SS Cesar Izturis, thriving in the No. 9 spot, singled in the fourth inning to hike his hitting streak to eight games.
--1B Albert Pujols stranded eight runners, although he hit three balls hard for outs.
--CF Rick Ankiel has delivered only two of 11 runners from third base with fewer than two outs. On Wednesday, he hit into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning.