ST. LOUIS — An 11-run lead almost wasn’t enough for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Aaron Rowand prevented the tying and go-ahead runs from scoring with a tumbling catch on the warning track that ended the eighth inning, and the Phillies narrowly avoided a monumental collapse when they held on for a 13-11 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night.
Ryan Howard hit a grand slam and a solo homer for the Phillies, who led 11-0 in the sixth inning and were clinging to a 12-11 lead when Rowand hauled in Ryan Ludwick’s drive with two on in the eighth. Rowand then homered in the ninth, and Francisco Rosario struck out Russell Branyan with two on and two out to earn his first career save.
Philadelphia, which swept New York over the weekend, pulled within 2 1/2 games of the NL East-leading Mets with its fifth straight win and moved a season-best 12 games above .500. The Phillies entered the night 1 1/2 games behind San Diego in the wild card race.
Rowand and Jimmy Rollins also homered in the fourth, and Howard’s fifth career grand slam off reliever Anthony Reyes in the sixth made it 11-0. But the Cardinals responded with three of their own in the sixth, six more in the seventh and two runs in the eighth.
Ludwick hit a two-run homer and Albert Pujols had an RBI single in the sixth, Kyle Kendrick’s final inning, and Pujols and Aaron Miles had two RBIs apiece as the Cardinals jumped on Clay Condrey in the seventh.
Rick Ankiel had a sacrifice fly in the seventh for his first RBI since reports surfaced that he purchased a year’s supply of human growth hormone in 2004. Ankiel hit two homers and had seven RBIs on Sept. 6, but was 4-for-33 the next 10 games.
Skip Schumaker’s RBI single off Kane Davis, his third hit of the game, cut the gap to 12-11 before Rowand’s catch ended the eighth.
Howard, who grew up in suburban Wildwood, has six homers, 17 RBIs and a .362 average (21-for-58) in 14 career games against the Cardinals, hitting safely in every game. He was 2-for-13 with a double and no RBIs in the Phillies’ three-game sweep of the Mets.
Both of Howard’s homers, giving him 40 on the year, went to the opposite field. He connected on the first pitch of the second from Brad Thompson (6-6), and lined a 1-2 pitch from Reyes into the visitor’s bullpen in left in the sixth.
Kendrick (9-4) gave up three runs and seven hits. The 23-year-old right-hander is tied with the Brewers’ Yovani Gallardo for the NL lead in victories by a rookie and has won both of his starts against the Cardinals, also beating them on July 13 with a career-best seven innings.
Thompson was the first of consecutive fill-in starters for the drooping Cardinals, with manager Tony La Russa committed only to Adam Wainwright, Braden Looper and Joel Pineiro the rest of the way. Thompson lasted 3 1-3 innings and allowed four runs, three earned, in only his second start since July 28.
The Phillies are 5-2 against the Cardinals this year and 14-5 in their last 19 games in St. Louis.