ST. LOUIS -- Matt Holliday staged a home run derby of his own on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.
Holliday, who was selected to participate in the 2011 State Farm Home Run Derby prior to Tuesday's tilt with Cincinnati, blasted a pair of homers to propel the Cardinals past the Reds, 8-1. The All-Star slugger certainly pounded home his selection to the 2011 Derby with the 16th multi-homer game of his career.
The same day the club got back one slugger in Albert Pujols, another emerged in full force.
Holliday took Reds starter Edinson Volquez deep twice -- once in the first inning to get the Cards on the board, and again in the fifth to give the Redbirds a comfortable lead.
"You can't make a mistake with those guys," Volquez said. "He's a great hitter and an All-Star guy."
The Cardinals jumped out to a fast start, with Lance Berkman following Holliday's first homer with one of his own to give starter Jaime Garcia a two-run lead. Berkman's 452-foot blast into the right-field bleachers was the longest hit at Busch III, surpassing Ryan Ludwick's 450-foot home run against Milwaukee on July 22, 2008.
Berkman's National League-leading 23rd homer was also the 350th of his career, tying him with Chili Davis for fourth all-time among switch-hitters. It was the fourth time the Cardinals hit back-to-back homers this season, with Berkman playing a part each time.
Holliday's second round-tripper of the night, a three-run shot, broke the game open in the fifth. The five-time All-Star hit Volquez's second pitch 403 feet to left-center field.
"That first home run was a piece of work," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "That clutch one [in the fifth] really gave us a big crooked number. He had a good night."
Holliday said he had heard from Prince Fielder, the NL captain for the 2011 Derby, a few days prior that he was going to be picked for his third Home Run Derby. Holliday said there was no correlation between Tuesday's official announcement and his power display against the Reds, but he admitted he's looking forward to showcasing his swing at the Derby on July 11 in Phoenix.
"I like to do it, I like to try to hit the ball far," Holliday said. "It's a fun thing that as a kid you always wanted to do, and I always thought if I get the opportunity, I'm going to do it every time."
Garcia was not the sharpest he's been, but was effective enough to pick up his eighth win. The left-hander allowed one run on two hits in six innings, striking out four against three walks.
Garcia pitched himself out of trouble when he needed to, getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth unscathed. The southpaw's command was not always there, though he didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning.
"When you walk a guy, you get off a little bit, and all of a sudden you start trying not to walk him instead of staying with the same aggressiveness," Garcia said. "I got a little too fine where I was trying not to walk guys."
Garcia improved to 5-1 with a 0.94 ERA at Busch Stadium this year. The left-hander is now 5-0 in seven career appearances (five starts) against the Reds.
St. Louis tacked on three more runs in the sixth thanks to Mark Hamilton's second pinch-hit RBI in as many games and a two-run double by Ryan Theriot.
With Pujols set to return to the Cardinals' lineup on Wednesday and the recent return of David Freese, they could finally send out the team many envisioned them to have.
"It's great, I think tomorrow we'll roll out the team that we thought our team would look like for most of the season," Holliday said. "To get Albert back in there and have Freese healthy, it's exciting."
Rookie Lance Lynn turned in another solid performance out of the bullpen for the Cards, striking out four Reds in a row after giving up back-to-back hits.
"What I like about him was that first inning he hung a couple curveballs, they got base hits, the next inning he made the adjustment," La Russa said. "It's a good sign when you can adjust."
Volquez gave up three home runs in 5 1/3 innings and was touched for seven runs, six earned, on seven hits.
The Cardinals remained atop the NL Central with a 1 1/2-game lead over the Pirates.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.