Hard-hitting Holliday provides plenty of support for Lynn’s strong outing

Matt Holliday was quite pleased with the 435-foot, two-run homer he launched off an 87-mph fastball from Dodgers right-hander Dan Haren.

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ST. LOUIS — Matt Holliday wasn’t overly impressed with himself after scoring the 1,000th run and delivering the 400th double of his 11-year career Friday night.

"It’s cool," he shrugged.

But Holliday was quite pleased with the 435-foot, two-run homer he launched off an 87-mph fastball from Dodgers right-hander Dan Haren.

For one thing, the fifth-inning blast proved to be the difference in the Cardinals’ 3-2 victory over the NL West-leading Dodgers.

Another, and perhaps longer-lasting, reason Holliday was happy with the swing that produced the long home run that landed over the center-field fence?

"That ball had good backspin, that’s a good sign," he said. "Hitting the ball through the middle of the field with backspin, that’s what I’m best at."

It wasn’t his only good swing of the night. Holliday also drove in the Cardinals’ first run with a hard double to center in his first at-bat and he lined out right at left fielder Matt Kemp. Six of Holliday’s past nine hits have gone for extra bases, a sign that his power is coming. Holliday, who enjoyed a huge second half last year, didn’t go that far.

"I’m trying to take it a day at a time," he said. "I’m going to enjoy the fact that I helped the team win today and come back tomorrow and get after Zack Greinke, which will be a challenge. I’m not trying to get ahead of myself."

3 UP

— Lance Lynn. Twenty days ago, he lasted only two innings and gave up nine hits and six earned runs in a 9-1 loss at Los Angeles. He made up for that and then some this time out. Lynn shut out the Dodgers on two hits through six innings before tiring in the seventh. He walked four but struck out nine on the way to his 11th win.

"He’s got a lot of wins and there’s a reason," manager Mike Matheny said. "It’s because he’s got great stuff. There’s a lot of people that love to go toward run support. I’ll continue to say he’s one of the most underrated pitchers in the game."

— Kolten Wong. Picking up where he left off before the break, Wong extended a hitting streak to seven games with a first-inning double and added a fifth-inning single. He was driven home by Holliday after both hits. Wong also flew out deep to right on a ball that gave Yasiel Puig a chance to show off how nonchalantly he can glide over for a catch.

— Adam Wainwright. He admitted his All-Star experience was marred because of comments he made — and then saw misconstrued — about pitching to Derek Jeter. But, thankfully for the media, he said he doesn’t plan on changing how he deals with reporters. "No, I made a mistake and I move on," Wainwright said Friday. Well, he might change a little. "Be more mindful of the words I use, maybe," he added.

Here’s hoping big-time that he doesn’t change. There is no player in the game more approachable and affable than Wainwright.


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— Shelby Miller. Taking advantage of three off-days coming in the next 10 days, the Cardinals will go with a four-man rotation for a stretch and have Miller work out of the bullpen. He has struggled in his past four starts and the club has wanted to give the 23-year-old some extra rest at some point in the season. How long he stays in the bullpen will depend in part on how Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez pitch out of the rotation.

"Just see how guys look, how guys feel," Matheny said. "We went into this season knowing that we would try to find Shelby some time if we could. This is a good time for it."

— The other Matts. In a rarity, both Matt Carpenter, the team leader in OBP, and Matt Adams, the batting average leader, went 0 for 4 and failed to reach base. They were the only players in the lineup besides the pitcher who did not get on at least once.

— The shift on Adrian Gonzalez. In the cleanup hitter’s third at-bat, the Cardinals repositioned Carpenter from third base to shallow right field as often happens these days with left-handed pull hitters at the plate. But what made this shift unusual was that Carpenter didn’t change spots until there were two strikes and then, catcher Tony Cruz set a high and outside target — an invitation for Gonzalez to try and hit to left. Alas, it didn’t matter. Gonzalez fouled off a pitch toward the left but then struck out on a curveball in the dirt. In his next at-bat, with Carpenter not shifting, Gonzalez lined a single almost right over his head.

You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter @StanMcNeal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.