Cards edged again by Phils

Monday, August 4, 2008

ST. LOUIS -- Brad Lidge looked nothing like an untouchable closer. Somehow, he got the job done.

Shane Victorino's three-run home run capped a four-run eighth inning against a vulnerable St. Louis Cardinals bullpen, and Lidge survived a shaky ninth and preserved the Philadelphia Phillies' 5-4 victory on Sunday night.

"They're never easy, you know," Lidge said. "I really didn't feel like it was a bad inning, per se."

Chase Utley added his 28th homer for the Phillies, who have gone deep in 12 straight games and lead the majors with 157 homers.

Philadelphia finished a 5-1 trip that gave them a 32-26 road record, percentage points off the Cardinals' league-best 31-25 mark away from home. The Phillies are 50-0 when leading after eight.

Troy Glaus homered off the left-field foul pole to start the ninth against Lidge. The Cardinals then loaded the bases with one out with Aaron Miles and pinch-hitter Rick Ankiel hitting singles and Cesar Izturis being hit by a pitch in the shoulder. But Lidge wriggled off the hook by striking out rookies Nick Stavinoha and Joe Mather for his 28th save in 28 chances, and 31st in a row dating to Sept. 25, 2007, at Cincinnati.

"He took advantage of a couple young hitters," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "He didn't throw strikes but they're hard to lay off, and I've seen veterans do the same thing."

Lidge said he just had to bear down.

"I think Glaus did a good job with the fastball, that was a mistake, and then these guys did a good job of putting the bat on the ball," Lidge said. "With the bases loaded and those two guys coming up, I felt confident I was going to get out of it."

Chad Durbin (4-2) got the victory despite allowing a run on two hits and a walk in one inning.

Ryan Ludwick hit his fourth homer in eight at-bats and Todd Wellemeyer threw four-hit ball into the seventh against a team that handed him his worst pitching line of the year two months ago.

It didn't prevent St. Louis from losing for the sixth time in seven games at home, with Ludwick grounding into an inning-ending double play in the eighth against Ryan Madson.

The Cardinals' bullpen is tied for the major league worst with 24 losses and has a major league-high 26 blown saves after the Phillies worked over Jaime Garcia (0-1) and two other relievers in the eighth. Pat Burrell's two-out RBI single tied it at 2 and Victorino followed with his 10th homer, both hits coming off Russ Springer.

Victorino, who entered in a double-switch in the seventh, was 8-for-24 with two homers and six RBIs on the trip.

"You kind of have an idea of what he has by watching video, and I was just trying to hit a ball I could drive," Victorino said. "It was a fastball. That's what I think it was."

The 39-year-old Springer was pitching for the fifth time in seven games, and La Russa said fatigue probably was a factor, saying he called on him "one time too many."

"About the only pitch I had to go with was my cutter and I didn't really figure that out until I had already given up the runs," Springer said. "I've still got to do my job.

"I've pitched a lot of innings when I've been a little tired, and it was just more of an execution thing."

The Cardinals are 31-27 at home, losing six of their last seven.

Entering the day, the trio of Ryan Howard (31), Utley and Burrell (27) combined for more homers than eight of the 30 teams. Howard, who is from suburban St. Louis, was 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and is batting .451 (14-for-31) on the year against the Cardinals with six homers and 15 RBIs.

The Phillies put only three runners in scoring position against Wellemeyer, who allowed one run on four hits in six-plus innings. Wellemeyer took the brunt of a 20-2 pasting by the Phillies at home on June 13, surrendering eight runs in 3 1/3 innings.

Ludwick led off the second with his first double since July 5 and Glaus followed with an RBI single to put the Cardinals ahead. Ludwick's 27th homer with one out in the fourth, a drive to left-center estimated at 426 feet, made it 2-0.

Albert Pujols was 0-for-10 in the series, and is hitless in his last 13 at-bats overall, although Madson walked him on four pitches to load the bases before Ludwick's double-play ball.

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