ST. LOUIS (AP) Matt Holliday doesn't get too technical about what he tries to do at the plate for the Cardinals.
Holliday hit his third home run in two games and broke an eighth-inning tie with a two-run single, rallying St. Louis past the Chicago Cubs 9-6 on Sunday.
"I just try to hit the ball to the middle of the field," said Holliday, who has five homers against the Cubs this season and 20 in his career. "Trying to hit a single up the middle is a good approach."
Holliday finished with three hits and four RBIs for the Cardinals, who began the day one game behind first-place Milwaukee in the NL Central.
The performance pleased St. Louis manager Mike Matheny.
"I love it when guys do what they've always done and people seem to forget year after year," Matheny said. "He's an elite player. He continues to figure out ways to get it done no matter what. It was a big game and we needed it."
St. Louis second baseman Kolten Wong homered but left in the top of the eighth after falling backward when he tried to catch a popup in short right field. He appeared to hurt his head and shoulder, and was replaced by Pete Kozma.
Kozma, in his third stint with St. Louis this season, led off the bottom half with a double. It was his second hit in four at-bats this year.
After failing to get down two bunt attempts, Daniel Descalso got the third one down and beat Carlos Villanueva's throw to first for a single. With the bases loaded and two outs, Holliday singled off Villanueva (5-7) to drive in two runs.
The ball appeared to hit Villanueva's foot, but the reliever said it actually struck the rubber and caromed into short left field.
Jhonny Peralta's third single scored the final run in a three-run eighth.
Pat Neshek (7-1) earned the win with one inning of work. Trevor Rosenthal got his 40th save in 45 chances with a scoreless ninth.
The Cardinals trailed 5-0 but rallied to tie it at 6 with two runs in the seventh. With two outs and two on, Peralta andYadier Molina each hit a run-scoring single off Pedro Strop.
John Lackey pitched 6 1-3 innings in his sixth start for St. Louis since coming over from Boston on July 31. The right-hander allowed five runs, two earned, and nine hits.
"We've got a bunch of grinders," Holliday said. "We haven't had the best offensive season. Lackey gave us a chance. He shut them down after the second and gave us a chance to get a couple here and a couple there. Next thing you know you're within a run and with a big hit, you have a chance to win the game."
Lackey issued a leadoff walk in the second and made a throwing error that allowed a run to score. Chris Coghlanhit a two-run single and Luis Valbuena, who had three hits, added a two-run homer to make it 5-0.
"I definitely would have liked to not let that inning get as far out of hand as it did and try to cut it to maybe two or three runs," Lackey said. "But I was able to make some adjustments after that and you've got to give the offense all the credit in the world today the way they came back, especially Matt, who's swinging the bat so well. It just was a big comeback win for us."
Holliday hit his 16th homer in the fourth, and St. Louis scored three in the fifth.
Wong hit a leadoff homer, and Matt Carpenter's RBI double glanced off the glove of center fielder Arismendy Alcantara at the warning track. Holliday's run-scoring double off the left-field fence chased starter Travis Wood.
Holliday is 13 for 37 (.351) against Wood with four home runs.
"They got a couple of pitches to hit out of the ballpark and they kept plugging away," Chicago manager Rick Renteria said. "That's what happens when you play against good clubs. That's the beauty of the Central Division. I'll still take my club against their club any day, and we'll keep battling."
Alcantara gave the Cubs a 6-4 edge with a solo homer off reliever Randy Choate.
Wong said he was fighting the sun trying to catch the popup and fell. He underwent concussion tests.
"I felt really dizzy," Wong said. "I'm not in any pain and I don't have any headaches."