"We needed a big hit, period, but to get one like that …," manager Mike Matheny said of Holliday's first blast. "We've been on the bad end this whole series with these guys hitting balls out of the park and putting together good at-bats. We finally had something break through."
That advancement came in the fifth inning of a 1-1 game after several extended at-bats against Cubs rookie left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada. Daniel Descalso, making his second start of the day, opened the inning with a single on the fifth pitch he saw. After a sacrifice bunt, Matt Carpenter worked out of a 1-2 count for a six-pitch walk.
Wada retired Kolten Wong for the second out but needed seven pitches to do so. Two pitches later, Holliday crushed a fastball 425 feet over the wall in right-center.
"Now, when you look back, it's all about the results," Wada said of his approach to Holliday. "That's a pitch that [catcher Welington] Castillo and I communicated about, and we went with that pitch, but the result wasn't there. When the next time comes when I face him, I have to set up another game plan."
The homer was Holliday's 14th of the season and the first by the Cardinals in this homestand. The Cubs, in contrast, had already hit seven.
"Three-run homers are game-changers," Holliday said. "Especially if it's a tie game and you get a three-run lead, it kind of gives you a little bit of a cushion and allows your pitcher to settle down a little bit."
It was the nudge that pushed open the floodgates.
That three-run lead would hold until the eighth, when the Cardinals sent 13 batters to the plate in their most productive inning of the season. Holliday opened the frame with his second homer -- this one traveling 432 feet -- and the Cardinals went an entire turn through the lineup without an out against relievers Wesley Wright and Zac Rosscup.
There were five RBI singles, and another two runs pushed home with bases-loaded walks. The nine-run outburst not only set a season high, it nearly the matched the total runs (10) the Cardinals had scored over their last six games combined.
"We had fun with it," said Matt Adams, who singled, scored and contributed a sacrifice fly in the inning. "Everybody was having good at-bats that inning. We knew the guy was having trouble throwing strikes, so we went up there aggressive in our zone, and if he didn't throw it there, we took it."
The 37-minute inning put to rest any concern about the team's losing streak extending to five. The 13 runs scored also stand as a season best for the Cardinals, who now trail the first-place Brewers, who lost their fourth straight game, by one game.
"Every game's important," Holliday said. "We've got to win every game. We'll just keep grinding."
The late barrage masked what had been a tight game through seven innings. Summoned to be the Cardinals' 26th man for the doubleheader, Gonzales was key in keeping it close.
Gonzales worked around a leadoff walk and two one-out hits in the first inning to limit the Cubs to one run. The two runners he stranded in that 21-pitch inning were the last two to advance into scoring position against him.
"It was huge. I think I started to settle in at the back of that first inning, just realizing that I needed to keep the ball down," Gonzales said. "I was pulling away with my arm a little bit and just trying to rush things. Calming down and settling in was huge after the first inning, for sure."
Gonzales allowed only one other hit -- a one-out single in the second -- while quieting a Cubs lineup that had scored 12 runs in the first two games of the series. The six-inning start was a career-best for Gonzales, who hadn't pitched beyond the fifth during his three-start stint with the big league team earlier in the summer.
"We needed a big outing from him," Matheny said, "and that's the best he's had for us."