Holliday comes quickly for Cards

Philadelphia – Matt Holliday hopped off a train, joined his new team and made an immediate contribution before making good contact.

Holliday went 4-for-5 with one RBI to back Joel Piñeiro, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 8-1, on Friday night in a matchup of division leaders.

Acquired from Oakland for a package of prospects earlier in the day, Holliday had two soft hits and a stolen base to help the Cardinals build a 5-0 lead. He ripped a double in the seventh and got his second infield single in the ninth.

“I was lucky, but I’ll take them,” Holliday said after tying a career high with his 15th four-hit performance. “How many times do you hit the ball hard and make outs?”

The three-time All-Star outfielder significantly bolsters St. Louis’ lineup for the stretch drive. With Piñeiro on the mound, the NL Central-leading Cardinals didn’t need much offense.

Pineiro (9-9) tossed six scoreless innings, allowing four hits. He’s given up three earned runs or fewer in nine straight starts, lowering his ERA to 2.95.

“He’s been very consistent,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “His record is deceiving.”

Julio Lugo homered and tripled in his first game with St. Louis and Rick Ankiel went 3-for-4 with four RBI.

The NL East-leading Phillies lost for just the third time in 18 games. They saw their division lead shrink to 51/2-game games.

Philadelphia starter J.A. Happ (7-1) gave up five runs and 10 hits in six innings, breaking a string of six consecutive sharp outings. The rookie left-hander has been mentioned prominently in trade talks with Toronto regarding All-Star pitcher Roy Halladay.

“It was frustrating to say the least,” Happ said. “You feel like you’re executing, but the balls are dropping.”

Holliday was in New York for Oakland’s series against the Yankees when he learned of the trade. He rode public transportation with his wife and two sons to Philadelphia to avoid traffic, and arrived at the ballpark in plenty of time to play left field and bat cleanup behind Albert Pujols.

“It’s a blessing to be here and to be able to contribute,” Holliday said.