ST. LOUIS (AP) - John Lackey powered back into the St. Louis postseason rotation picture with 7 2-3 dominant innings, and Randal Grichuk and Matt Holliday hit consecutive homers in the first inning of the Cardinals' 2-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.
The NL Central leaders had only five hits but maintained a 2 1-2-game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates with eight games remaining. Their magic number is seven for clinching a second straight division title and two over third-place Milwaukee for securing a fourth straight postseason berth.
St. Louis is 6-1 on its final nine-game homestand.
Lackey (14-9) was passed over in the just-completed three-game series against Milwaukee after complaining of a dead arm.
The 35-year-old right-hander arrived at the trade deadline with a big-game reputation but was 2-2 with a 5.05 ERA in his first eight starts.