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Holliday having strong Series, but many Cards aren't

Stifled by Boston's Lester again in Game 5 defeat, St. Louis in do-or-die mode

ST. LOUIS -- Matt Holliday's World Series production would be memorable if it weren't so easy to forget.

Holliday homered off Red Sox lefty Jon Lester in the bottom of the fourth inning Monday night. But that was the Cardinals' only run in a 3-1 loss in Game 5, which left them having to either win the next two at Fenway Park or watch Boston party down.

It was Holliday's second Series homer, and his five RBIs are one fewer than the Red Sox's David Ortiz. He and Ortiz are the only players with two homers. Holliday also has a double and a triple, so he and Ortiz each have four extra-base hits.

But while Ortiz, hitting an otherworldly 11-for-15, is the odds-on Series MVP choice should the Red Sox win the title, it would likely take a look at the stat sheet to realize what Holliday has done. Still, it might not be enough to win the award, even if the Cards come back to win. It's not all Holliday's fault. Either the crazy endings have overshadowed Holliday, or, as was the case Monday, his contributions simply weren't pivotal.

It's hard to be pivotal when St. Louis has hit just .213 in the Fall Classic and scored three or fewer runs in nine of its 16 postseason contests.

"We'll be fine," said Holliday, who went 1-for-4 and has a .286 Series batting average. "We'll come out, try to play hard, try to win a game in Game 6. That's all we can do. It's shortsighted, but we've got to win the next game."

Lester held the Cardinals to four hits in 7 2/3 innings. He also limited the Cards to five hits in 7 2/3 innings in Game 1 -- an 8-1 Red Sox win. It was another occasion when Holliday's homer, that one off reliever Ryan Dempster, was all St. Louis could manage.

Unlike in Game 1, it was still a game when Holliday homered Monday. He drove Lester's 0-1 fastball onto the grassy knoll in center field to tie the game at 1. Lester said catcher David Ross, whose seventh-inning double gave the Sox the lead, calmed him.

"Any time you give up a homer, you want to have that pitch back," Lester said. "[Jonny Gomes] makes a great play [on Carlos Beltran], and you're kind of looking around wondering what's wrong now. But I got locked in, got back into a rhythm."

With Lester in rhythm, he was able to prevent the Cardinals from stringing together a rally. At no point did he pitch with more than one runner on base. Leadoff man Matt Carpenter went 0-for-4 to fall to .217 in the Series. Heart-of-the-order bats Holliday (1-for-4) and Beltran (1-for-3) never came to the plate with a runner on base. The productive Yadier Molina came up once with a man on, after Beltran's second-inning leadoff single, and struck out looking before Allen Craig's double-play grounder.

With hits hard to come by, the way to win is scratch out some baserunners and make the few hits timely ones. The Red Sox are one win from a championship despite a .205 Series average.

Holliday hasn't had ideal timing with his big hits. His triple in Game 2 led to a run in a 4-2 victory, but the game was won with production low in the order and two Red Sox errors on a single play during which the Cardinals scored two runs. Holliday doubled and drove in three runs in the Cards' 5-4 victory in Game 3, but that game will be remembered for the obstruction call against Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks that allowed the winning run to score in the ninth.

Holliday isn't concerned with coming up with the hit that gains him notice. He just hopes someone on the Redbirds can deliver enough runs to win a game against a stellar pitching staff.

"It's just really good pitching," Holliday said. "When you get to the World Series, both teams are here because they have really good pitching. That's part of the reason. In the postseason, it's tough to score runs. We hit some balls hard right at people, and they pitched pretty well.

"They've got a good team. They beat us. We've got to win the next game."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb.
Read More: St. Louis Cardinals, Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, David Freese, Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter