ST. LOUIS — After stumbling in his first start following three months on the disabled list, Joe Kelly tinkered with his mechanics.
Kelly bounced back with seven strong innings and Matt Adams homered in a four-run first as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 Saturday to send All-Star Zack Greinke to losses in consecutive regular-season starts for the first time in nearly four years.
Kelly (2-1) gave up four hits over seven innings, retiring his last 13 batters as the Cardinals won for the eighth time in 10 games.
Kelly didn’t get a decision on July 11 in his return from a strained left hamstring, when he gave up six runs over three innings during the Cardinals’ 7-6 win at Milwaukee. After winning for the first time since April 5, he wouldn’t detail his changes.
"I did a lot of stuff different, but I’m not going to give it away," he said. "If you watch the video, you can probably tell."
Kelly induced 12 groundouts and got out of trouble with double plays in each of the first two innings.
"I was just trying to mix up pitches and hide stuff better," he said.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was impressed with Kelly’s ability to keep the ball down.
"I thought it was one of his better pitching performances," Matheny said. "There were times when I even thought his changeup was a breaking ball. It has so much depth to it. So his secondary pitches were on."
The Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez thought Kelly had great pitch location.
"He didn’t throw any balls in the middle of the plate," he said. "He kept throwing his fastballs right on the corner. There weren’t any pitches to drive."
Trevor Rosenthal, the Cardinals’ third reliever, got his 30th save in 34 chances when Andre Either grounded into a game-ending double play.
Coming off a July 9 defeat at Detroit, Greinke (11-6) walked a season-high five and gave up four runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He had not lost back-to-back starts in the regular season since Sept. 20 and 25, 2010, for Kansas City at Detroit and Cleveland, according to STATS.
Greinke did lose his regular-season finale against Colorado last year and was beaten by Atlanta in his first postseason start.
"Too many mistakes in one inning," Greinke said. "I’ve been doing that too much lately, getting behind in a game too early. I need to find a way to be better right from the get-go."
St. Louis improved to 21-10 at home against the Dodgers in the regular season since the start of the 2006. The Cardinals also beat Los Angeles in six games in last year’s NL championship series.
Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday left the game in the fifth, four innings after he was shaken up while diving back into second base on a pickoff attempt. The Cardinals said team doctors determined Holliday did not sustain a concussion.
Dodgers All-Star outfielder Yasiel Puig left in the eighth, five innings after he was hit on the left hand by a Kelly pitch. Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly said Puig got hit, "near the top or on the side a little bit."
Both players were considered day to day.
Matt Carpenter opened the Cardinals’ first with a walk, and Kolten Wong reached on a slow roller when second baseman Dee Gordon threw wide of first, a play ruled a hit and an error that put runners on second and third,
Holliday followed with a two-run single and Adams hit his 12th homer on Greinke’s 16th pitch of the game.
Adams, who has 15 hits in his last 39 at-bats, drilled a line drive over the right-field wall.
"The curveball just popped up in the zone," Adams said. "When it does that, you know it’s a good one to swing at."
Greinke said Adams outsmarted him.
"I was just trying to be aggressive and it was the wrong choice," he said. "Usually, he’s kind of patient early."
Los Angeles, which has lost five of eight, scored on Hanley Ramirez’s RBI infield single in the third and Carl Crawford’s sacrifice fly against Sam Freeman in the eighth.
The Dodgers have only 12 runs in their last seven games.
"It just tells us that we’ve got to get better," Mattingly said.
NOTES: Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw (11-2, 1.78) is to face RHP Carlos Martinez (2-4, 4.43) in the series finale on Sunday. … Wong extended his hitting streak to eight games. He has hit safely in nine of 10 games since returning from the DL on July 6. … Los Angeles OF Matt Kemp is in a 2-for-18 skid over the last seven games with 11 strikeouts. … Kelly retired the Dodgers in order in the fifth on consecutive groundouts to Wong at second base. ….Gordon leads the major leagues with 31 infield hits. … St. Louis OF Jon Jay played all three outfield positions during the game.