PHOENIX — Something about Matt Holliday does not agree with Trevor Cahill.
The two have faced each other nine times, and Holliday has three home runs.
The first two, bases-empty homers in 2010, did not not keep Cahill’s team, then the A’s, from a victory. This one did.
Holliday lined an off-the-plate low changeup into the left field seats for a two-run homer with one out in the sixth inning, providing the impetus in the Cardinals’ 6-2 victory over the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. The ball barely got 20 feet off the ground as it carried into the second row of the bleachers.
“It was a changeup that I tried to throw low, and I got it low. He’s just a really, really strong person. I didn’t even want to look at it (on tape). Some of the guys said it was pretty impressive that he was able to get it out,” Cahill said.
The two were teammates in Oakland for four months in 2009, Cahill’s rookie year, before Holliday was sent to St. Louis for a package of three minor leaguers that included former Arizona State star Brett Wallace at the July trading deadline.
“He’s probably the strongest guy I’ve seen. If he gets the barrel on it, it is going to go out, whether he’s on one foot or a toe. He can probably swing with one arm and hit it out. He’s just kind of a freak athlete,” Cahill said.
“Every team I’m on, he’s always killed us.”
Holliday hit two bases-empty homers against Cahill in one game in July 2010, the first on a changeup and the second on a fastball inside.
“I thought tonight was the better of the three that he has hit out. Do that again, who knows, he might miss it.” Cahill said.
Added D-backs manager Kirk Gibson: “He is a very good off-speed, changeup, breaking-ball hitter, and a bad-ball hitter as well. He’s gotten lots of guys over his career. He’s a dangerous hitter. That was a big blow.”
The Holliday homer was a game-changer because the D-backs could not muster any offense against Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia and three relievers.
Miguel Montero’s opposite-field homer leading off the second inning was their only rum, and Montero had two of their hits, adding a single in the fourth. Gerardo Parra’s single in the seventh was the only other hit.
Cahill, who lost 15 pounds after adjusting his diet in the offseason, started off well, as Ian Kennedy did the night before. Cahill threw first-pitch strikes to 11 of the first 12 batters he faced before the Cardinals tied it on a double and two groundouts in the fourth inning, but he lost his rhythm later. He walked two, threw a wild pitch and hit a batter before leaving after 5 2/3 innings.
“It felt good to start off. I kind of got tired at the end at let stuff unravel. The way Garcia was throwing I knew it was going to be a close game. I made a couple of mistakes, and that was the ball game,” Cahill said.
“The first inning I thought (the ball) was coming out real good. As the adrenaline started to wear off, I started getting a little bit tired. I was most upset with those walks, and then hit the guy with a pitch I wasn’t trying to throw anywhere close. You just have to maintain your focus every pitch.”
Cahill, making his third career start against the Cardinals, had given up only three runs total in 12 innings. He could not get out of the sixth inning Tuesday, when he gave up a walk and a single with two outs following Holliday’s homer.
Cahill had a three-game home winning streak broken after his strong finish in 2012, when he won four of his five September starts. He reached 200 innings with a victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 29, his last start of the season.