Jon Jay went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBI and the St. Louis Cardinals drew first blood in their key three- game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 12-8 victory over their division rival.
The win, powered by their 1-4 hitters going a combined 10-for-15 with seven runs scored and eight RBI, moved the Cardinals within a half-game of the NL- Central leading Pirates.
Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran knocked in two runs apiece and Matt Carpenter doubled, tripled, scored three runs and drove in another for St. Louis, which began a nine-game homestand Friday on a high note after a disappointing 2-5 stretch in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
Josh Harrison smacked a two-run homer for the Pirates, but only after the Cardinals blew the game open with a seven-run seventh inning that started with nine consecutive hits, highlighted by Yadier Molina's three-run homer.
Joe Kelly (8-3) gave up eight hits and three walks but stranded 10 Pirates and held them to one run over his six innings of work. The right-hander has won his last five starts and eight straight decisions overall.
"You've just got to make pitches when you need to," Kelly said. "I just tried to battle and make pitches when I needed to."
Pirates starter A.J. Burnett (7-10) was knocked out early after surrendering five runs on six hits in the first three innings.
"I felt like I could have stayed out there longer and kept us in it, but that's not my choice, not my decision," Burnett said.
Beltran lined a shot to center with two on in the opening inning, and the one- hopper got past Andrew McCutchen, allowing both Carpenter and Jay to score.
Four straight extra-base hits to start the third pushed St. Louis' lead to 5-0. Carpenter tripled into the right-field corner, Jay doubled him home and scored on Holliday's two-bagger, and Beltran capped the frame with an RBI double.
One of Pittsburgh's five hits with a runner in scoring position came in the fifth when Pedro Alvarez singled up the middle to bring in McCutchen, but the Cardinals' seven-run seventh essentially sealed the Pirates' second straight loss despite a late comeback.
Harrison's pinch-hit homer powered the Pirates' four-run eighth, and the visitors nearly brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth after Clint Barmes walked with the bases loaded and Jose Tabata doubled in two more runs.
Edward Mujica quickly thwarted the rally by retiring Harrison on a flyout to pick up his 36th save of the year.
Carpenter has 98 hits at Busch Stadium this year, tying the park's single- season record set by Albert Pujols in 2008 ... Beltran had three of St. Louis' 16 hits ... Cardinals reliever John Axford and manager Mike Matheny were both ejected in the eighth inning after Axford hit Tony Sanchez with a pitch. Both teams were warned by home plate umpire Tony Randazzo following Bryan Morris' brush-back pitch on Molina in the seventh ... Adam Wainwright will pitch for St. Louis on Saturday opposite Jeff Locke ... Pittsburgh still leads the season series, 10-7.