DENVER -- The St. Louis Cardinals pounded Colorado starter Juan Nicasio and cruised to an 11-4 win over the Rockies on Tuesday night.
The victory enabled the Cardinals to take over first place in the National League Central. They had been tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who lost 5-2 at home to the San Diego Padres for the second straight night.
Matt Holliday went 4-for-4 with a two-run homer, drove in three runs and scored twice for the Cardinals, who piled up 18 hits. Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina and Daniel Descalso each had two RBI.
The Cardinals struck for six runs in the third when they drove Nicasio from the game and built an 8-0 lead. Holliday's two-run homer in the fifth off Rob Scahill made it 10-0.
Joe Kelly (9-4), making his Coors Field debut, held the Rockies scoreless on three singles for five innings and lowered his ERA to 2.74. He seemed to twist his right ankle while getting the second out in the fifth and stayed in the game to face and retire one more batter to finish the inning and qualify for the victory. The Cardinals have won nine of Kelly's past 10 starts and are 11-3 overall in his starts.
The Rockies tallied four runs in the seventh. Pinch hitter Charlie Culberson singled home the first run, and a second scored on right fielder Shane Robinson's error on the hit. DJ LeMahieu and Michael Cuddyer also had run-scoring singles.
Cuddyer went 2-for-3 to raise his average to .331, giving him a four-point lead over Atlanta's Chris Johnson in the National League batting race.
Nicasio (8-8) lasted just 2 2/3 innings as he gave up eight hits, three walks and eight runs. It was Nicasio's second-shortest start of the season; he lasted 2 1/3 innings June 25 at Boston.
The Cardinals went 6-for-10 against him with runners in scoring position and 7-for-12 in the first three innings. They entered the game leading the majors with a .329 average in those situations.
Molina doubled home the first run of the third with one out, and he scored on Matt Adams' single.
After walking David Freese, Nicasio gave up Descalso's two-run triple and Carpenter's run-scoring, two-out single. Scahill yielded Jon Jay's run-scoring single.
That made it four two-out runs for the Cardinals, who scored one apiece in the first and second. Nicasio issued two walks in the first before Molina's run-scoring single. Carpenter grounded a single to right in the second to score Descalso, who had singled and was sacrificed to second by Joe Kelly.
NOTES: Rockies LHP Jorge De La Rosa will throw a bullpen session Wednesday. If it goes well, he will start Saturday against Arizona. He missed his turn Monday against St. Louis due to a bone bruise on his left thumb. ... 3B Nolan Arenado, who aggravated his bruised right thumb Monday and left the game in the second inning, won't start for a few days but could be available to play defense. ... Rockies CF Dexter Fowler is a few days away from starting for the first time since Sept. 6. He has been sidelined with a twisted left knee but pinch hit and flied out in the fifth after getting a single as a pinch-hitter and playing one inning on defense Monday. ... Carpenter entered the game on pace for 199 hits. The last St. Louis player to have 200 hits in a season was Albert Pujols, who had 212 in 2003.