Cardinals stymie Phillies 5-1 behind Garcia

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Joe Blanton yells after giving up a two-run double to St. Louis Cardinals' Felipe Lopez during the eighth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, July 21, 2010, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

July 21, 2010 8:45:24 PM PDT
Rookie Jaime Garcia stymied the sagging Philadelphia Phillies for seven innings and Matt Holliday's homer leading off the bottom of the seventh was the go-ahead hit as the St. Louis Cardinals made it eight straight wins with a 5-1 victory Wednesday night.

Felipe Lopez had two RBIs for the NL Central leaders, whose streak is the franchise's best since winning eight straight from Aug. 27-Sept. 5, 2004. Ryan Franklin got Jayson Werth on a groundout with two on to end the eighth and finished for his 18th save.

St. Louis beat the two-time defending NL champions three straight games by a 20-6 total and will go for the sweep behind 13-game winner Adam Wainwright on Thursday.

Ryan Howard hit his 22nd homer for the Phillies, who have lost six of seven since the All-Star break and are only two games above .500 (48-46). Joe Blanton (3-6) tired in the eighth, giving up a two-run double to Lopez, and Colby Rasmus added a sacrifice fly in a three-run inning.

Werth is batting .280, but only .159 with runners in scoring position.

Garcia (9-4) retired the first 12 batters in order before Howard homered leading off the fifth. He struggled only in the eighth - his final inning - when the Phillies loaded the bases on two walks and Jimmy Rollins' single, rebounding to strike out Blanton on three pitches for the third out.

Garcia lowered his ERA to 2.21, rebounding from two iffy starts in which he gave up 17 hits in 5 2-3 innings, although he gave up only four earned runs. He needed 70 pitches to get through six innings before throwing 25 in the seventh.

Holliday lined Blanton's first pitch of the seventh over the left field wall for his 18th homer, a drive estimated at 423 feet. He has homered in consecutive games and is 9 for 19 with six RBIs since the break.

The start of the game was delayed for 25 minutes by rain.

NOTES: St. Louis 1B Albert Pujols stole his team-leading 11th base and second in as many games in the fourth after his RBI single, but was picked off on Rasmus' strikeout for an inning-ending double play. ... Phillies 2B Cody Ransom made a diving stop up the middle to start a double play on Pujols' grounder to end the sixth. ... The Cardinals are 34-15 at home. ... Despite losing three straight the Phillies (12-8) are one of only two teams with a winning record at 5-year-old Busch Stadium. Milwaukee is 22-19. ... Rollins, moved to sixth in the order to bust his slump, was 1 for 4.