Allen Craig stood on first base expressionless, squinting into a sharp sunshine as he unstrapped his elbow and shin pads just like Carlos Beltran had done at third base moments earlier.
Neither of the unfazed Cardinals knew it at the time, but their back-to-back hits in the first inning led St. Louis to a 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs in the second of a four-game series.
Beltran knocked in the first run with a triple and scored on Craig's base hit. Beltran also added a double later in the game and finished with three hits.
Joe Kelly (1-3) held the early lead and gave up one run on three hits in 5 1/3 innings in his third start of the season after working out of the bullpen at the start of the year. He added four strikeouts for St. Louis, which won for the sixth time in seven games.
"I felt really good out there," Kelly said. "I was working ahead of hitters most of the time."
Carlos Villanueva (2-5), who has also spent time in the bullpen this year, gave up two runs on four hits in six innings as a hard-luck loser. He retired the last 12 Cardinals he faced.
"I thought I came out well," Villanueva said. "I just couldn't put those guys away. I had a couple of them with two strikes. We did exactly what we wanted to do, just didn't execute the pitches."
Starlin Castro slammed his sixth home run for the Cubs, who had won five of six coming into Friday.
Matt Carpenter led off the game with a base hit to left and scored when Beltran roped a triple into the right-field corner. Craig followed with a base hit up the middle and past a drawn-in infield to score Beltran and give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.
Chicago got on the board in the third without making solid contact. Luis Valbuena worked a walk and moved to second after Castro took a Kelly changeup to the back. Alfonso Soriano dropped a soft single in front of center fielder Jon Jay to score Valbuena.
After the Cubs wasted Anthony Rizzo's leadoff double in the sixth, the Cardinals tacked on an insurance run in the seventh. Rob Johnson's sinking fly ball fell just past diving right fielder Nate Schierholtz and rolled to the wall for a triple. Carpenter followed with a fly ball that fell between Soriano, the left fielder, and center fielder Brian Bogusevic for a double that scored Johnson.
Chicago got that run back in the eighth on Castro's home run, but it wasn't enough. Trevor Rosenthal got the last two outs of the eighth and Edward Mujica pitched a perfect ninth for his 26th save of the season.
Matt Guerrier and Pedro Strop each pitched a scoreless inning for the Cubs. Since each reliever was acquired via separate trades on July 2, they have combined to toss 12 scoreless innings ... Soriano has 18 RBI in his last 14 games ... Castro's home run was the Cubs' 100th this season ... Kevin Siegrist, who set a Cardinals record by not being scored on in his first 12 career outings (12 innings), gave up his first career run on Castro's homer ... Chicago went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base ... St. Louis went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven.