|Chi. Cubs (75-71)||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||7||0|
|St. Louis (86-62) «||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||1||3||6||0|
Holliday homered off Aaron Heilman leading off the bottom of the ninth inning for a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday that reduced the Cardinals' magic number for clinching the NL Central to six.
The Cardinals had lost five of six, ensuring they wouldn't be able to celebrate during a nine-game homestand that ends Sunday.
The team's slump and his personal struggles were no big deal for Holliday even if he had failed in the ninth. He was 6 for 29 overall and had not appeared to be seeing the ball well while going 1 for 9 the previous two games against the Florida Marlins.
"At some point you figure we were going to lose a few," Holliday said. "I can't believe people expected us to win four out of five games the entire last two months."
Holliday's liner off a 3-1 pitch from Heilman (3-4) landed in the Cardinals' bullpen beyond the right field wall for 24th homer this season, his third career game-winning homer and second this year. The Cardinals are 9-5 against the second-place Cubs, clinching the season series for the first time since 2004.
Heilman was happy with the location on a fastball away. If not the result.
"Evidently it's never a good pitch when it goes over the fence," Heilman said. "It's a tough way to lose."
Holliday has 13 homers and 49 RBI in 50 games with the Cardinals. He had 11 homers, 54 RBI and hit .286 in 93 games with Oakland.
Manager Tony La Russa was not surprised when Holliday came through.
"He just hit it absolutely perfect, as pure as you can hit it," he said. "If you hit great all the time, you hit .400 or .500, and nobody does that."
Ted Lilly allowed two runs in 7 2/3 innings for Chicago, his seventh straight strong start since coming off the disabled list from a shoulder injury. He's 3-1 with a 1.53 ERA over that stretch and his NL-high 44 wins the last three seasons is one more than Cardinals 18-game winner Adam Wainwright, who pitches Sunday in the series finale.
Ryan Franklin (3-3) struck out two and picked off Ryan Theriot, his first since August of 2007, to end the ninth. Kyle McClellan struck out four in the seventh and eighth for St. Louis, allowing only a walk.
With one out in the first John Smoltz gave up consecutive doubles by Kosuke Fukudome, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez for a 2-0 lead. Lee's 64 RBI since July 1 leads the majors and Ramirez has 21 RBI in 21 games.
"We had swung the bats good the last few games at home and I said 'Well, we might add five or six,"' Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "Their pitching staff settled down and did a nice job."
Smoltz, pitching on 10 days' rest after a bout of shoulder tendinitis, allowed only three singles in his last five innings to keep it close. He walked three, one intentionally, after a 28-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio in his first four outings with St. Louis.
Smoltz is 15-5 for his career against the Cubs, but has not beaten them since April 5, 1997. He said he was too pumped up at the start of the game.
"Very rarely do I get that anxious," Smoltz said. "With the crowd and the game, sometimes you get a little out of whack."
Lilly retired the first nine hitters in order and had allowed one hit before the fifth when DeRosa hit an RBI triple and scored on Brendan Ryan's sacrifice fly to tie it. DeRosa had been 3 for 22 in the first six games of a nine-game homestand, and 2 for 11 against Lilly.
Attendance of 45,959 was the Cardinals' 30th sellout.
|Matt Holliday high fives Mark DeRosa after the slugger goes deep for a walk-off homer in the ninth. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Ryan Theriot, SS||5||0||2||0||0||3||1||.290|
|Kosuke Fukudome, CF-RF||3||1||1||0||1||1||1||.257|
|Derrek Lee, 1B||4||1||1||1||0||1||2||.304|
|Aramis Ramirez, 3B||2||0||1||1||2||0||1||.322|
|Micah Hoffpauir, RF||3||0||0||0||0||0||3||.233|
|a- Aaron Miles, PH||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.181|
|Sam Fuld, CF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.260|
|Geovany Soto, C||4||0||0||0||0||2||3||.225|
|Jeff Baker, 2B||4||0||2||0||0||0||1||.301|
|Bobby Scales, LF||3||0||0||0||1||2||1||.240|
|Ted Lilly, P||2||0||0||0||0||0||3||.091|
|Kevin Gregg, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Jake Fox, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.282|
|Aaron Heilman, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-hit a sacrifice bunt for Hoffpauir in the 8th|
|b-struck out for Gregg in the 9th|
|2B - Kosuke Fukudome (32, Smoltz), Derrek Lee (33, Smoltz), Aramis Ramirez (14, Smoltz)|
|SH - Aaron Miles (4), Ted Lilly (5)|
|RBI - Derrek Lee (103), Aramis Ramirez (59)|
|PK - Ryan Theriot (3, Franklin)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|Aaron Heilman (L,3-4)||0||1||1||1||0||0||1||4.23|
|HBP - Lugo (by Ted Lilly)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Ted Lilly 110-84, Kevin Gregg 4-2, Aaron Heilman 5-2|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ted Lilly 5-12, Kevin Gregg 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Ted Lilly 29, Kevin Gregg 1, Aaron Heilman 1|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Julio Lugo, 2B||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.291|
|Ryan Franklin, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Colby Rasmus, CF||4||0||1||0||0||1||2||.257|
|Albert Pujols, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||0||3||.330|
|Matt Holliday, LF||4||1||1||1||0||1||2||.311|
|Ryan Ludwick, RF||3||1||1||0||0||1||0||.272|
|Mark DeRosa, 3B||3||1||1||1||0||0||0||.255|
|Yadier Molina, C||3||0||1||0||0||0||1||.285|
|Brendan Ryan, SS||2||0||0||1||0||1||1||.288|
|John Smoltz, P||2||0||0||0||0||2||0||.077|
|Kyle McClellan, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Skip Schumaker, PH-2B||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.301|
|a-grounded out for McClellan in the 8th|
|3B - Mark DeRosa (1, Lilly)|
|HR - Matt Holliday (24, Heilman)|
|SF - Brendan Ryan (3)|
|RBI - Matt Holliday (103), Mark DeRosa (71), Brendan Ryan (32)|
|SB - Julio Lugo 2 (7, 2nd base off Lilly/Soto, 3rd base off Lilly/Soto)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Ryan Franklin (W,3-3)||1||1||0||0||0||2||0||1.89|
|IBB - Scales by John Smoltz|
|Pitches-Strikes - John Smoltz 108-65, Kyle McClellan 33-21, Ryan Franklin 17-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Smoltz 5-9, Kyle McClellan 2-0|
|Batters Faced - John Smoltz 27, Kyle McClellan 7, Ryan Franklin 3|
|Attendance - 45959|
|Game Time - 2:54|
|Temperature - 71|
|Umpires - Home - Marty Foster, First Base - Mark Carlson, Second Base - Todd Tichenor, Third Base - Kerwin Danley|