Jaime Garcia bounced back Wednesday after a tough start the last time out to throttle Philadelphia's dangerous offense.
The lefthanded rookie allowed only four hits and and one run -- scored on a solo homer by Ryan Howard -- in seven innings pitched. He struck out six and walked two. Howard's homer was the first Garcia has allowed a lefty to hit against him all year and was only his fifth allowed overall.
That, coupled with a late offensive outburst to break the game open, was enough to give the Birds a 5-1 win, the club's eighth consecutive victory. Meanwhile the Reds lost to Washington to give St. Louis a 1 1/2-game lead in the National League Central at 54-41.
Albert Pujols had an RBI single to give the Cardinals their first run. After the Phillies tied it, Matt Holliday hit a solo homer to regain the lead. Both players had several other hard hit balls for outs. Holliday lined out twice and Pujols had a hard grounder up the middle with Jon Jay on first that should have made it first and third with one out. Somehow the Phillies second baseman got to it, handled it and started a double play to end the threat.
Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols catches a popup in the team's Wednesday win over Philadelphia. AP photo.
Garcia held the line until the seventh. The Redbirds bullpen bailed out Garcia from a two on, one out situation in the top of the eighth, then went to work with the bats in the bottom half of the inning.
Aaron Miles singled and went to third when Philadelphia botched the play on Brendan Ryan's bunt attempt. With two on and no outs, Felipe Lopez plugged the outfield gap for a double to make the lead 4-1. Colby Rasmus hit a sacrifice fly to add the final run.
Jay had another great game at the plate for the Cardinals. He was 2-for-3 with a run scored. His batting average climbed to .378 in 40 games played. Miles' hit in his only plate appearance raised his average to .356.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Garcia.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Holliday's homer.
Lowlight: Skip Schumaker was 0-for-3 at the plate in his first game back after jamming his wrist on a diving play in the field.