Manny Machado homered and drove in three runs to back Clayton Kershaw, and the Dodgers beat the Cardinals 9-7 in the opener of a four-game series between playoff contenders.
The Dodgers snapped a five-game losing streak against the Cardinals and moved to within one game of St. Louis for the final NL wild-card spot. The Cardinals, who went 22-6 in August, lost their second straight game and fell to 5-7 in September.
Kershaw (8-5), pitching at Busch Stadium for the first time since taking the loss in Game 4 of the 2014 NL division series, struck out eight in six innings, allowing four runs - three earned - on eight hits and two walks.
Freese tripled on a 14-pitch at-bat against Austin Gomber to score Chris Taylor and Machado in the first. Matt Kemp followed with a single to score Freese.
Kershaw's RBI single started a four-run fourth and drove Gomber (5-1) from the game. Taylor followed with an RBI double, and Justin Turner and Machado had sacrifice flies as the Dodgers went ahead 8-1.
Machado went 3 for 4, and his solo homer in the seventh traveled 417 feet to center.
It was Gomber's first loss in the majors. The rookie left-hander went three-plus innings and gave up a career-high seven runs on nine hits.
Cardinals reliever Tyson Ross hit his second career home run in the fifth, sparking a three-run rally. He became the fourth Cardinals pitcher to homer this season, the most the team has had since 1966.
Matt Carpenter had a pair of singles and scored twice. Marcell Ozuna had two hits, an RBI and scored a run.
The Cardinals scored twice and brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen needed 29 pitches to finish the game in a non-save situation.