Jon Jay, playing for the first time in a week, didn't waste any time making a contribution.
Jay's two-out single against Junichi Tazawa scored A.J. Pierzynski with the go-ahead run in the eighth inning Tuesday and the St. Louis Cardinals held on for a 3-2 victory over Boston.
With two outs, Pierzynski singled and went to third on Oscar Taveras' single to right-center. Jay, who hadn't played since July 29 in San Diego because of a sore left wrist, then floated a soft single into left-center to score Pierzynski.
"It felt great being back out there," Jay said. "It was nice to be able to come through today. I was just trying to go out there and have a nice at-bat, take it one pitch at a time.
"(The wrist) feels a lot better. It feels good to be out there and I'm happy to be able to contribute. I hadn't swung at all until today. I'm just going to go out there and keep competing."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was glad to pencil Jay back into the lineup, particularly after seeing his game-winning single.
"Big hit," Matheny said. "He did a great job in the outfield for us, too. He had some good at-bats. We like the way he's been going about it, and today was a big day for us."
The rally made a winner of Pat Neshek (5-0), who struck out the side in the eighth. Trevor Rosenthal pitched the ninth for his 35th save, which leads the major leagues. Tazawa fell to 1-3.
The victory kept the Cardinals (60-51) one game behind Milwaukee in the NL Central. The Brewers defeated San Francisco 4-3.
Lance Lynn pitched well but did not figure in the decision. Lynn worked seven innings, allowing two runs (earned) on four hits. He walked one (intentional) and struck out four.
"I was able to mix speeds to different sides of the plate with the fastball. I had pretty good command of that tonight," said Lynn, who likes working with Pierzynski behind the plate. "It's pretty simple. He puts down the ol' No. 1 (fastball) and I throw it. There's not much of an adjustment because that's what Yadi (Molina) does, too."
The Cardinals struck first, pushing across a run in the fourth on Matt Holliday's double and Matt Adams' single.
Jhonny Peralta and Pierzynski followed with walks to load the bases, but Taveras swung at Rubby De La Rosa's first pitch and grounded into a 1-2-3 double play.
A throwing error on third baseman Matt Carpenter helped the Red Sox tie the game. Carpenter, who made a sensational play to rob Dustin Pedroia of a double in the first, threw high after fielding Daniel Nava's grounder in the fifth.
Nava advanced to second on the play, and after Xander Bogaerts' weak roller to third advanced Nava to third, Christian Vazquez drove in Nava with a sacrifice fly to center.
Boston took its first lead of the game in the seventh.
Recently acquired Yoenis Cespedes and Nava singled and each moved up a base on Bogaerts' sacrifice bunt. Vazquez was intentionally walked, and Lynn then coaxed a comebacker from Will Middlebrooks.
Lynn, however, couldn't make a clean pickup to begin a home-to-first double play, so he took the out at first as Cespedes scored.
"I jammed him up and it was spinning," Lynn said of the roller. "It never got to me. You're trying to make sure you catch it and throw the guy out at home. The ball just seemed like it wouldn't get to me. ... But the offense came right back and won it for us after that."
Pinch-hitter Mike Napoli stranded Nava at third when he was called out on strikes by Mark Ripperger.
St. Louis had runners at first and second with two outs in the sixth, but Taveras struck out looking.
The Cardinals, however, scored the tying run in the seventh.
With one out, pinch-hitter Shane Robinson walked on a 3-2 pitch from Tommy Layne. Carpenter grounded out to first as Robinson reached second, and Robinson scored when Kolten Wong delivered a two-strike single to center that made it 2-2.
Burke Badenhop relieved Layne and struck out Holliday, who slammed his bat to the ground after Ripperger's call on a 1-2 pitch. Holliday, who seldom loses his cool, immediately was ejected.
"I see a guy who has been seeing the ball really well," Matheny said of Holliday, suggesting the ball might have been outside. "He has the go-ahead run at second base late in the game and wants more than anything to make it happen. I know he's frustrated when he doesn't agree with the strike call.
"My frustration only is how quickly he got tossed. I understand the umpire's position, too. They see a guy throw his stuff, and that's not anything we preach around here. But we do know our guys are into this and we don't want to strip them of their emotion."