The Cardinals’ offense has been the most prolific in the National League all season, especially with two outs, when the team batting average is .332. But, given that circumstance, there still was the feeling that there was more to come.
Yadier Molina is threatening to run off with the batting title. Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig and Molina all are hitting over .400 with men in scoring position.

Matt Holliday, the Cardinals’ perennially dangerous No. 3 hitter, has been relatively quiet, even though he himself was batting a hardly shabby .356 with men in scoring position before Thursday night.

But Holliday hadn’t got hot yet, as you know someone with a .313 lifetime average and five 100-RBI seasons is wont to do. The sample size is small yet, but that streak may be starting. Holliday is seven for his last 16 over four games, and he’s hit safely in seven of his last eight.

After lining out in the first inning, Holliday singled home a run in the third when one Chicago Cubs infielder crossed in front of another, and his grounder got through into left field. Holliday then rifled his 11th homer into center field to start a four-run, sixth-inning surge that lifted the Cardinals to a 6-1 win over the Cubs before a paid Busch Stadium house of 43,651.

The upshot is that the Cardinals, after five tries, finally moved past 20 games over .500 and are 47-26 following their third win in four games against the Cubs.

Righthander Lance Lynn, holding the Cubs to three hits over six innings after Jake Westbrook limited them to two hits in seven the night before, joined the 10-win club in the National League. That club has only a couple of other members, one of them the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright.

Lynn is 10-1 overall and 5-1 against the Cubs in three seasons. He has not lost in his last nine decisions at home, and he is a whopping plus-20 at 28-8 in the last two seasons.

Perhaps Lynn could have gone longer than 92 pitches through six innings, but Cardinals manager Mike Matheny went for the gusto with the bases loaded and two out in the sixth inning, calling on his top RBI man, Craig, to pinch hit for Lynn. Craig delivered a two-run single to help break the game open. Craig, who led the major leagues with a .400 average with men in scoring position last year, is at .438 in those spots now.

“I try to get a hit every time,” said Craig. “I know it’s not going to happen, but I feel I’ve got a good approach when guys are out there.”

Matheny admitted he had to think twice about making the move he made.

“Not an easy decision,” said Matheny. “It was easy afterwards when it went well. I liked how Lance was throwing the ball and I wasn’t excited to take him out of the game.

“But when you have an Allen Craig on the bench and you have an opportunity ... it was a 3-1 game at the time, but it felt even closer than that. It was a great at-bat by Allen and to be able to stay sharp the whole game being in a situation he hasn’t been in in a while — on the bench.