Outfielder Carlos Beltran prefers coming to the ballpark knowing where he's hitting in the Cardinals' batting order.

On Saturday, Beltran remained in the No. 2 spot despite Matt Holliday's late scratch, and he responded with his National League-leading 17th home run of the season in a 2-0 victory over Cleveland.

In the third inning, Beltran crushed an 83-mph slider over the fence in center field, an estimated 410 feet, giving the Cardinals a rare early-inning lead. The homer was the ninth of the season in 19 games hitting in the No. 2 slot.

"The difference when I'm hitting second, I'm more aggressive," said Beltran, whose 45th RBI this season places him third in the NL. "When I'm hitting fourth, I have to be a little more patient because I'm not going to get the pitches that normally you will get hitting second. Hitting second, the pitcher is trying to be aggressive and when you're hitting fourth, sometimes you're hitting with guys in scoring position and the pitchers don't want to give you a ball right down the middle so you have to really be patient and work the count."

Beltran has spent a majority of the season (31 games) in the clean-up spot. He's also had two games in the No. 3 hole.

"For me, honestly, this year has been more difficult than any year because some days I'm hitting two, some days I'm hitting third, some days I'm hitting fourth," Beltran said. "As a player, I like to come to the ballpark and just know that I'm going to hit in one spot and just be there so I can prepare myself. But sometimes when you have to move so much in the order, it requires a little bit of mental preparation. You have to approach the game a little bit different. But I guess Mike (manager Matheny), he feels sometimes he just uses me in different order."

The Cardinals and Indians were engaged in a scoreless affair when Beltran, staring at a 1-0 count, stayed with a pitch from Indians starter Justin Masterson.