ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals needed a big hit with the bases loaded and two out in the seventh inning on Monday night. Fortunately for them, they had Allen Craig at the plate.
Craig hit his first career grand slam, helping the Cardinals rally for an 8-6 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
Matt Holliday also had a long three-run homer as St. Louis moved into sole possession of first place in the NL Central for the first time since July 29. The Cardinals lead idle Pittsburgh by a half-game and Cincinnati by 3½ games in the top-heavy division.
Craig is 7 for 10 with 20 RBIs this season with the bases full.
"I think I've developed a pretty good approach that allows me to be successful in that position," Craig said. "I go up there confident and I believe in myself."
Rookie Carlos Martinez (1-1) pitched two innings for his first major league win and Edward Mujica worked a perfect ninth for his 35th save.
Zack Cozart had two hits and three RBIs for the Reds, who dropped to 4-9 against St. Louis this season. Jay Bruce hit his 25th homer in the eighth.
Cozart and Todd Frazier each hit a two-run triple off Tyler Lyons in the second, helping Cincinnati to a 4-0 lead. But Holliday belted a three-run drive deep to left in the third.
Holliday's 18th homer came against Mike Leake and traveled an estimated 442 feet for the longest shot by a St. Louis player at Busch Stadium this season.
"What it comes down to is that guys are just swinging the bats," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said.
The Cardinals went ahead to stay in the seventh. Jon Jay drove in a run with a bases-loaded grounder off Manny Parra (1-3). J.J. Hoover then came in and walked Holliday on a full-count pitch and Craig drove the next pitch over the wall in right for his 13th homer.
"I left it a little too much out over the plate," said Hoover, who has allowed three grand slams this season. "I knew he's a good hitter with the bases loaded and I didn't want to come in there on the first pitch."
Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said Craig's drive was "devastating."