One of the few things Matt Holliday has excelled at more than hitting against his old team is hitting at his old home.

When he does both for the Cardinals the Rockies really shudder.

As part of a muscular display of offense by the Cardinals’ lineup Holliday who debuted and first starred with Colorado reveled in the free-range openness of Coors Field thumping his first ballclub with four hits and three RBIs.

The Cardinals romped for an 11-4 victory that vaulted them back alone into first place in the National League Central and put them within a game of the best record in the National League. Holliday reached base all five times he came to the plate clubbed his 30th double hit his 20th home run and tossed in two pivotal catches in left field for embroidery on his complete game.

“I’ve obviously played a lot of games here” Holliday deadpanned.

The Cardinals had an 8-0 lead before the end of the third inning and that was plenty for Joe Kelly. The righty won for the sixth time in his past seven starts by throwing five shutout innings. Kelly (9-4) has been pitching despite some tightness in his right calf muscle near his knee. He felt the leg bite on him while running to cover first on a ground ball in the fifth inning. After a lengthy meeting on the mound he was replaced after finishing the inning.

Manager Mike Matheny said the 10-0 lead the Cardinals had at the time and the chance for injury were enough to remove Kelly from the game. Kelly lobbied to stay in but understood the caution flag.

“We’re so close to the end pushing for a spot” Kelly said. “Even if it was 0-0 that’s still something you don’t want to risk.”

The teams tied or ahead of the Cardinals all lost before the jubilee of offense started. The Pirates (87-64) lost to San Diego at home to fall into second place. The surging Nationals swept a doubleheader from Atlanta on Tuesday to drop the Braves to only one game ahead of the Cardinals (88-63) for the best record in the league. That would secure home-field advantage.

“You always want to gain a game” Holliday said. “There’s still a lot to play.”

Although searching for the offense that makes them the highest-scoring lineup in the league the Cardinals started this road trip the last of the regular season emboldened by an outpouring of runs Sunday. They tagged Seattle for a dozen runs and 19 hits and felt that was the push they needed to roll again.

It took a day to catch up to them.

The Cardinals unloaded for 18 hits against the Rockies and they were still pushing for runs in the top of the ninth inning. Matt Carpenter scored his third run of the game when he raced home from third on a wild pitch to set the final score.

“You know from watching them that it’s kind of what they do” Matheny said. “They have a little lull and then they blow up. It would be nice to see it for an extended (time) keep it going for a couple weeks.”

On a micro and macro level the numbers were staggering Tuesday.