Matt Holliday cranked a three-run homer and Blake Hawksworth finally got his third win Sunday as the Cardinals beat the Astros 4-2 and pulled to within one game of the lead in the National League Central.
Hawksworth pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on seven hits and three walks. He might have given up one run and one less hit if Tyler Greene would have been able to handle a hot hit ball off the bat of Carlos Lee in the first inning. It was a tough play. But one that major leaguers need to make. Greene made up for the inability to field the ball with two hits in three at bats at the plate. He also drew a walk.
The power was supplied by Holliday, who made the Astros pay for their ridiculously short left field with a pop up homer in the fourth inning that gave St. Louis the lead. The homer which, if you believe the "315" sign at the left field foul pole, went about 325 feet was Holliday's 16th of the season. That total is the most he's had at the break over the course of his career.
Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday hits a three-run homer in the fourth inning Sunday against Houston. AP photo.
The Birds led 3-2 in the eight when they got two runners on with one out. Holliday fanned when he had a chance to cushion the St. Louis lead. But Colby Rasmus, who was sitting on the bench with a tight hamstring, pinch hit and pushed home an important run with a single.
Ryan Franklin, who hasn't made an appearance since his blow up in Colorado during the first game of the six-game road trip, got two quick outs before alloweing a weak single to right. But he stayed in control and got the last out on a grounder to end the game.
Jon Jay had a bunt single in his second plate appearance of the game. It was his 11th consecutive game with a safety, the longest active streak in the National League.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Holliday
Cardinals Play of the Game: Holliday's three-run homer
Lowlight: Not to dwell too much on the past. But if the Cardinals could have managed not to blow huge leads late in two of their three games against Colorado, they'd be all alone at the top of the standings despite at the All-Star break a more than challenging first half.