ST. LOUIS -- It was a head-spinning first inning for the Cardinals, as they scored four quick runs off Dodgers All-Star starter Zach Greinke.
But the events left one of their best players dizzy.
Matt Holliday hit his head on Hanley Ramirez's knee diving back into the second base bag and was removed from the game four innings later for "precautionary reasons." Holliday does not have a concussion and is day-to-day, but his removal fogged up what could have been a clear, crisp 4-2 win over the Dodgers.
Joe Kelly pitched seven spectacular innings in his first start at Busch Stadium since April 11. The righty rebounded from his last start, when he allowed six runs in three innings to Milwaukee in his first start off the DL.
Kelly scattered just four hits, struck out four and walked one. He needed 99 pitches to reach the seven-inning mark for the second time in his career.
Kelly used double plays to navigate out of jams in the first and second innings, and allowed a run in the third after Ramirez's infield single brought home Dee Gordon. But Kelly retired the next 13 batters he faced and cruised to his second win of the year.
He received run support immediately after putting up a zero in the first.
The first four Cardinal batters scored against Greinke, who didn't' allow a hit to the next 16.
Holliday's two-run single brought home Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong, and Matt Adams drove the next pitch over the wall in right for a two-run homer.
Four batters, four runs. That was all the Cardinals needed.
Sam Freeman allowed a run in the eighth, his first earned run allowed since June 24. Pat Neshek got the last two outs of the inning before Trevor Rosenthal was called on to convert his 30th save.
The Cardinals have taken the first two games of this weekend series, with Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw looming for Sunday. He will be opposed by Carlos Martinez, not Adam Wainwright, whose start was pushed back to Tuesday.
With Milwaukee playing tonight at Washington, the Cardinals have a chance to jump into a tie for first place with a Brewers loss.
Carpenter led off the game with a walk and advanced to third when Gordon threw away Wong's infield single. Holliday followed with a single to left, advancing to second when Carl Crawford bobbled the pick up.
Holliday was leading off second when Greinke attempted to pick him off. The right-hander's throw led Ramirez into the bases path, and the shortstop went to his knees to make the tag. One of those knees knocked Holliday's helmet off and sent the slugger seeing stars.
He was checked out by manager Mike Matheny and a team trainer before staying in the game and playing four more innings. Holliday struck out in his only other at bat.
Adams' homer was his 12th of the season. It traveled 385 feet into the stands in right.
Wong went 2-for-4 with a double. He's now hit in eight straight games and nine of 10 since returning from the disabled list on July 6.
Jon Jay had a two-hit day and stole a base. Peter Bourjos made an immediate impact as Holliday's replacement. Bourjos singled and stole second after pinch-hitting for Holliday in the fifth, and converted a sacrifice bunt in the seventh.
George Kottaras went 1-for-2 with a walk in his first start behind the plate. Kottaras was acquired off waivers on July 11 following Yadier Molina's injury.
The Cardinals won for the seventh time in nine games.
Yasiel Puig, the colorful and talented Dodgers right fielder, also left the game prematurely. Puig was hit by a Kelly changeup on the hand in the third inning. Matt Kemp pinched hit for him in the eighth. Kemp struck out against Neshek.
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