ST. LOUIS -- If the past two games are any indication, Matt Holliday is up to some old tricks.
Last year, for instance, he started slowly and then exploded down the stretch, hitting .378 in September with more RBIs (23) than all but two players.
The St. Louis Cardinals left fielder homered, doubled and drove in four runs Sunday -- including a go-ahead, two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the eighth -- as St. Louis overcame a 5-0 deficit to down the Chicago Cubs 9-6 at sold-out Busch Stadium.
In salvaging a split of the four-game series, the Cardinals (73-63) drew within a half-game of the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the National League Central.
Holliday led the charge, starting the comeback with a solo homer in the fourth. He added a run-scoring double an inning later to cut the deficit to 5-4, then scored the tying run in the seventh on a two-out single by catcher Yadier Molina.
In the eighth, Holliday felt an 0-2 fastball from reliever Carlos Villanueva whiz under his chin. The next pitch buzzed past Villanueva's legs and off the corner of the rubber, skipping past third baseman Luis Valbuena into left field as Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso scored.
"We needed this win," Holliday said. "We couldn't afford to lose three of four."
It capped a 10-RBI series for the 34-year-old Holliday, who now has 78 RBIs on the year -- the 10th consecutive season he drove in at least 75 runs. Since Aug. 18, Holliday has 18 RBIs, half of those in the past two games. He hit 11 of his 16 homers in the past two months.
Manager Mike Matheny heard the skeptics this year, wondering if Holliday has finally reached the back nine of a productive career.
"You're talking about an elite player here," Matheny said. "People seem to forget that. Year after year, he figures out ways to get it done. A big day for him, and we needed that from him."
Villanueva (5-7) pointed as Descalso's two-strike bunt single as the eighth inning's key, since it gave St. Louis runners at the corners with no outs.
"If I make that play, the inning is over," Villanueva said.
Reliever Pat Neshek (7-1) pitched the eighth for the win, and closer Trevor Rosenthal shrugged off a leadoff walk in the ninth for his 40th save in 45 chances.
Chicago (61-76) jumped out to a 5-0, second-inning lead. Three of the runs were unearned, thanks to a run-scoring throwing error by pitcher John Lackey on a sacrifice bunt by counterpart Travis Wood.
Left fielder Chris Coghlan added a two-run single, and Valbuena drilled a two-run homer to right, his 15th of the year.
St. Louis pulled within 5-4 in the fifth. Second baseman Kolten Wong led off with a homer, and third baseman Matt Carpenter followed with a one-out RBI double. Holliday doubled off the left field wall with two outs.
Center fielder Arismendy Alcantara gave the Cubs a 6-4 lead in the seventh with his seventh homer of the year. It was Chicago's ninth homer of the series.
The Cardinals equalized in their half of the seventh on two-out RBI singles by shortstop Jhonny Peralta and Molina. Peralta capped the scoring in the eighth with a run-producing single.
Neither starter was around for a decision. Wood lasted just 4 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and four runs while walking three and striking out two. Lackey pitched 6 1/3 innings, yielding nine hits and five runs, two earned. He walked a man and fanned six.
"You definitely don't want to let that inning get as far out as it did," Lackey said of the second. "I was able to make some adjustments after that. You have to give the offense some credit, especially the way Matt swung the bat. It was a big comeback win for us."
NOTES: St. Louis recalled LHP Kevin Siegrist and INF Pete Kozma from Triple-A Memphis while optioning LHPs Marco Gonzales, Nick Greenwood and Tyler Lyons to Double-A Springfield. ... Chicago sent LHP Zac Rosscup, the 26th man in Saturday's doubleheader, to Triple-A Iowa. It also played without 1B Anthony Rizzo (lower back tightness) for a sixth consecutive game. ... Cardinals RHPs Michael Wacha (stress reaction in shoulder) and Jason Motte (lower back) started rehab assignments Sunday for Springfield. The duo probably will continue their rehab work during the week at Memphis, which qualified for the Pacific Coast League playoffs Saturday night.