Jake Westbrook was a distant second to Cliff Lee when it came to the free agent pitchers available last winter.
But Westbrook got the better of Lee Monday night as the Cardinals beat the Phillies 3-1 to end their three game losing streak.
Manager Tony La Russa raised some eyebrows with a starting lineup that included Albert Pujols' first start at third base since 2002, Lance Berkman in Pujols' customary spot at first base and Allen Craig in Berkman's usual spot in right field. But Pujols made a couple of nifty plays at third including the start of a 5-4-3 double play that killed a Philadelphia rally.
Westbrook pitched seven innings and allowed only one run on four his and three walks. All three of the free passes were issued to slugging Phillies first sacker Ryan Howard.
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The Phillies got on the board first in the second inning when John Mayberry attempted to steal second base and was called safe despite the fact that replays showed he was out. Instead of being there being two outs with the bases empty, Mayberry scored from second on a single from Ben Francisco.
The Cardinals tied the game and took the lead in the fourth when Matt Holliday walked to lead off and then Berkman drew a walk to push him to second. Craig struck out. But Yadier Molina singled to load the bases and then Nick Punto singled to drive Holliday home to knot the score at one run each. Westbrook struck out. But with two outs Ryan Theriot singled home Berkman to give St. Louis a lead that it would never give up.
In the seventh with two men out Jon Jay faced Lee and, with two strikes, managed to get an RBI hit off one of the toughest lefties in the majors to make the score 3-1. Eduardo Sanchez got through a scoreless eighth and Fernando Salas closed out the game.
The six walks he issued in the game were the most Lee has ever allowed in his career.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Westbrook.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Theriot's go ahead single.
Lowlight: Craig was 0-for-5 with a strikeout and six men stranded on base.