Cardinals closer Edward Mujica pitched a perfect ninth for his 26th save of the season as the Cardinals followed starter Joe Kelly and just enough offense to a 3-2 victory against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Kelly claimed his first win of the season in his second start of the season.

The Cubs tightened the game in the eighth inning when Starlin Castro hit a solo homer off lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist.

The homer was the first hit allowed by Siegrist to a righthanded hitter and the first run he allowed in 13 appearances in the majors. But Mujica was steady as ever in the ninth, retiring the Cubs on six pitches and three groundouts.

Carlos Beltran had three hits and RBI as the Cardinals' No. 3 hitter in Matt Holliday's place. Pete Kozma went 0-for-4 to increase his slump. He is now hitless in his previous 26 at-bats.

Holliday (hamstring) will not play this weekend, he confirmed.

Choate preserves lead

The reason Cardinals manager Mike Matheny didn't use Randy Choate in Thursday's game to face Anthony Rizzo with the game potentially in the balance came true in the sixth inning of today's game.

Aware that he had few arms to spare and innings to get from the bullpen, Matheny did not dispatch Choate to face Rizzo when there was a righty lurking after him, two lefties waiting after that, and an whole inning for Choate to pitch once Jake Westbrook was out of the game.

Matheny held the situational lefty for a different situation.

That situation developed Friday. In the sixth inning, lefthanded hitter Anthony Rizzo doubled to open the inning and put the tying run at second base. Starter Joe Kelly retired the righty after Rizzo, outfielder Alfonso Soriano, and then brought the stacked lefties to the plate and Choate to the mound. Choate walked lefthanded-hitting Nate Schierholtz, but was able to lefthanded-hitting Brian Bogusevic to ground into the inning-ending double play.

That kept Kelly in line for a win if the Cardinals' bullpen can hold on to the lead.

That got a little less difficult when Rob Johnson made his first appearance as a Cardinal. Johnson lifted a pinch-hit triple into the right-field corner with two outs in the top of the seventh inning. He scored on Matt Carpenter's RBI double to the wall in left-center field.

The Cardinals lead 3-1 going into the bottom of the seventh.