ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals needed a big hit with the bases loaded and two out in the seventh inning on Monday night. Fortunately for them, they had Allen Craig at the plate.
Craig hit his first career grand slam, helping the Cardinals rally for an 8-6 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
Matt Holliday also had a long three-run homer as St. Louis moved into sole possession of first place in the NL Central for the first time since July 29. The Cardinals lead idle Pittsburgh by a half-game and Cincinnati by 3½ games in the top-heavy division.
Craig is 7 for 10 with 20 RBIs this season with the bases full.
“I think I’ve developed a pretty good approach that allows me to be successful in that position,” Craig said. “I go up there confident and I believe in myself.”
Rookie Carlos Martinez (1-1) pitched two innings for his first major league win and Edward Mujica worked a perfect ninth for his 35th save.
Zack Cozart had two hits and three RBIs for the Reds, who dropped to 4-9 against St. Louis this season. Jay Bruce hit his 25th homer in the eighth.
Cozart and Todd Frazier each hit a two-run triple off Tyler Lyons in the second, helping Cincinnati to a 4-0 lead. But Holliday belted a three-run drive deep to left in the third.
Holliday’s 18th homer came against Mike Leake and traveled an estimated 442 feet for the longest shot by a St. Louis player at Busch Stadium this season.
“What it comes down to is that guys are just swinging the bats,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said.
The Cardinals went ahead to stay in the seventh. Jon Jay drove in a run with a bases-loaded grounder off Manny Parra (1-3). J.J. Hoover then came in and walked Holliday on a full-count pitch and Craig drove the next pitch over the wall in right for his 13th homer.
PHILLIES 2, METS 1
NEW YORK — Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee outpitched Zack Wheeler and the Phillies beat New York.
Lee (11-3) gave a bullpen taxed by an 18-inning loss Saturday a much-needed rest. He allowed a run and five hits in eight innings to win for the first time in seven starts since July 5.
DODGERS 6, CUBS 2
LOS ANGELES — Zack Greinke came within one strike of his fifth career shutout, Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig homered, and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Chicago Cubs, ending a two-game skid.
The Cubs lost for the eighth straight time to the Dodgers, including a four-game sweep at Wrigley Field earlier this month. The Dodgers equaled their longest winning streak against the Cubs in franchise history, set from June 9, 1974-May 19, 1975.
ROCKIES 6, GIANTS 1
DENVER — Todd Helton homered to move within three hits of 2,500, and Colorado beat San Francisco.
Juan Nicasio tossed six shutout innings and added an RBI single, and Charlie Blackmon also homered for the Rockies.
Buster Posey singled and reached base for the 49th straight game against Colorado.
D-BACKS 6, PADRES 1
PHOENIX — Brandon McCarthy turned in seven strong innings, and Paul Goldschmidt drove in two runs to lead Arizona over San Diego.
Jays beat Yanks
TORONTO — R.A. Dickey pitched into the seventh inning, Jose Reyes sparked Toronto’s offense and the Blue Jays snapped a 10-game losing streak against the New York Yankees with a 5-2 victory.
Alex Rodriguez hit his 650th home run, a leadoff drive in the fifth, but the Yankees lost for the ninth time in 13 road games this month. Rodriguez is 10 homers away from tying Willie Mays for fourth on the career list, which would secure a $6 million bonus for the third baseman.
ATHLETICS 8, TIGERS 6
DETROIT — Coco Crisp and Daric Barton each drove in two runs, leading Oakland past Miguel Cabrera and Detroit.
ROYALS 11, RAYS 1
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jeremy Guthrie tossed five effective innings, helping Kansas City roll to the victory in the makeup of a snowed-out game from early May.
RANGERS 8, MARINERS 3
SEATTLE — A.J. Pierzynski hit a three-run homer for Texas, and Mitch Moreland had a solo shot.
ASTROS 10, WHITE SOX 8
CHICAGO — Matt Dominguez hit a tiebreaking homer with two outs in the ninth inning and Chris Carter followed with his second homer of the game, powering Houston to the win.