Matt Holliday and David Freese each knocked in two runs and Joe Kelly continued his dominance as a starting pitcher, helping the St. Louis Cardinals salvage the finale of a three-game set against the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 7-2 decision Sunday at PNC Park.
Allen Craig collected two hits, an RBI and two runs scored, while Yadier Molina added a pair of hits, an RBI and a run scored for the Cardinals, who snapped a three-game slide to move back into a tie with Pittsburgh atop the NL Central.
Kelly (7-3) held the Pirates to one run on four hits and two walks over six solid frames to improve to 7-0 in 10 starts since joining St. Louis' starting rotation in early July.
St. Louis did most of its damage against Pittsburgh left-hander Kris Johnson, who was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis prior to the game to make his first career start.
Johnson (0-2) failed to make it out of the third inning, surrendering five runs on seven hits and two walks in just two-plus innings to absorb the loss.
Marlon Byrd registered two of Pittsburgh's six hits while knocking in a run and scoring another for the Pirates, who were looking to complete their first three-game sweep of the Cardinals in Pittsburgh since Sept. 12-14, 2008.
The Cardinals jumped on Johnson in the first, as Matt Carpenter clubbed a leadoff double and Shane Robinson followed with a walk. After a Holliday fly out, both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch before Craig looped a single into shallow center field to score Carpenter from third for a 1-0 lead.
Molina followed with a line-drive single to left to plate Robinson and double St. Louis' lead before Freese walked on five pitches to load the bases for Jon Jay, who laced a sacrifice fly to center to score Craig for a 3-0 lead.
The Cardinals added to their edge in the third, as Craig and Molina opened the frame with back-to-back singles before Freese followed with a double into the gap in left-center to score both runners for a 5-0 cushion.
St. Louis tacked on two more runs in the sixth. Kelly and Carpenter stroked back-to-back two-out singles before Robinson walked to load the bases. After a brief meeting at the mound, Holliday punched a base hit through the right side of the infield to score Kelly and Carpenter for a 7-0 cushion.
Pittsburgh manufactured a run in the home half when Byrd singled home Andrew McCutchen, who was hit by a pitch with one out before moving into scoring position on a groundout.
Byrd led off the home half of the ninth with a double to left and moved to third on a fly out before scoring on John Buck's single to center.
Edward Mujica quickly put Pittsburgh's comeback bid to rest by getting Jordy Mercer to ground into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.