Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

HOLLIDAY DELIVERS; Cardinals 6, Pirates 5; Left Fielder Returns to Old Spot and Drives in Winning Run

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

HOLLIDAY DELIVERS; Cardinals 6, Pirates 5; Left Fielder Returns to Old Spot and Drives in Winning Run

Article excerpt

Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday had become so accustomed to hitting cleanup over the past few weeks that he assumed he was there Thursday, as usual, until seeing a piece of paper with him batting No. 3 shortly before game time.

Knowing old lineup sheets can collect around the batting cages, Holliday double-checked the date to be sure it was that day's game, against Pittsburgh. He was back in his familiar spot in the order to start the game.

It's also how he finished it.

Holliday drilled a one-out single up the middle to score Matt Carpenter for a 6-5 walk-off win against the Pirates in the 12th inning at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals rallied from a four-run deficit in the middle of the game, got four hits from Carpenter, and kept pushing after the Pirates tied the game to force extra innings. The victory against first-place Pittsburgh slashed its lead in the National League Central down to two games. The series win forced the Cardinals to do things they haven't before this season. Two of their three walk-off wins this summer came in the series, and before Tuesday the Cardinals hadn't rallied to win a game when trailing by three or more runs once this season. They did it twice this week.

"We wanted to play different than how we did in Pittsburgh," said manager Mike Matheny, referencing four losses in five games at PNC Park a few weeks ago. "The guys played hard. They really did. Any time having a walk-off is a big deal. Having one in this series is a big deal. To turn around and have one (again) shows the resiliency of this ball club."

The Cardinals finished their 10-game home stand with more than 40,000 at each game and a 4-6 record. But they head to Chicago to visit Wrigley Field with three wins in four games and a new spark to the lineup. Prospect Kolten Wong, the team's top pick in the 2011 draft, will join the roster today. Yadier Molina, the team's first- half MVP, was activated from the disabled list before Thursday's game and hit fifth. Molina's return allowed Matheny to reorganize the middle of the lineup, putting Allen Craig back at his usual cleanup spot and restoring Holliday at No. 3.

The left fielder had one of the more difficult first halves of his career, and he carried a career-low .268 average into the All- Star break. Since, he's soared.

Holliday extended his hitting streak to 12 games with an RBI double in the Cardinals' five-run rally in the fifth inning. He reached base three times Thursday, and his two-for-four game actually lowered his second-half average to .405. The Cardinals have lacked for power in the past month and hit only two home runs in the final seven games of the home stand.

Holliday had both.

"When the big guy is confident, he's a scary hitter," third baseman David Freese said.

The series against the Pirates underscored the style of offense the Cardinals have had to employ without power. …

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