Holliday once again heating up in second half

Holliday once again heating up in second half

ST. LOUIS -- Matt Holliday paused for a moment as the ball flew deep into the warm St. Louis air before landing in the left-center bleacher seats at Busch Stadium.

The way Holliday admired the flight of the ball Sunday afternoon follows suit with the way the Cardinals feel about the slugger's second-half surge.

After hitting six home runs in 339 at-bats before the All-Star break, Holliday's seventh-inning homer Sunday, which brought the Cardinals within one run of the Brewers in an eventual 3-2 victory, marked his sixth in 51 at-bats since.

"He's a good hitter," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Just the same thing we've been trying to say since April. It's not that we're going to wave a magic wand and August is here and we expect everything to be right. Just keep fighting, grinding, and figuring out a way to get it done and put together good at-bats. The hits, the home runs, they will come."

There may not be a magic wand, but there is familiarity for Holliday with what a second half has often brought.

Last season, Holliday hit a National League-best .348 with nine home runs and 47 RBIs in 58 games after the break. He's hitting .294 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 14 games out of the break this season.

The key to that success?

"It's hard to say," Holliday said. "There's comfort and feeling good. Sometimes you're good and sometimes you're not. I'm going through a nice stretch right now where I'm getting the ball in the air a little bit and hitting it hard."

Holliday, who has battled back tightness at times in his career, used the four-day All-Star break to take time away from the game.

"You spend so much time in the cage, the calluses and the blisters, you give them a chance to heal a little bit," Holliday said. "You get away from the game a little bit and then you come back more refreshed. I think that helps. Especially guys that have been around a lot, sometimes you need a few days off to get refreshed and get ready to go again."

Alex Halsted is an associate reporter and Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.