ST. LOUIS — When the St. Louis Cardinals needed a big hit Thursday night, David Buchanan was there to deny them.
The rookie pitched neatly into the eighth inning and Ryan Howard homered and drove in three runs, sparking the Phillies to a 4-1 victory over the Cardinals.
Buchanan stopped the Cardinals twice but the Phillies made the most out of two opportunities against St. Louis pitcher Shelby Miller.
That turned out to be the difference.
"You have to give them credit," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "They were able to do something that we weren’t."
Philadelphia touched Miller for two runs in the fourth to take the lead. Carlos Ruiz doubled and Chase Utley singled to lead off the inning. Howard singled home Ruiz and Utley scored on Domonic Brown’s sacrifice fly.
"They get a leadoff double and did a nice job getting him over and a nice job getting him in and getting the other guy over to third," Matheny said. "Then a sac fly. It was situational hitting and opportunities like that can really turn the tide for a club."
The Cardinals had runners at first and third with one out in the second inning but Buchanan pitched out of the jam and then again in the sixth when Miller doubled to lead off.
"We had an opportunity that was missed in the second," Matheny said. "We had first and third and the opportunity to get a run in there and we don’t do it. We got hit on both sides — us not doing it and them doing a real nice job of doing the little things right."
Howard, a St. Louis native, has hit safely in 22 of 27 regular season games at Busch Stadium. He has 38 RBIs in St. Louis and a .374 batting average.
"It’s always good to be able to come back home and play in front of family and friends," Howard said. "It’s a very familiar feeling. It’s always good to be back."
Buchanan (3-3) made his deepest start yet, pitching 7 2/3 innings. He threw 105 pitches and kept the Cardinals off balance and off the scoreboard until the eighth. Buchanan allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four.
Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth to pick up 17th save in 19 opportunities.
Miller (7-6) gave up seven hits and three walks in 6 2/3 innings. Miller has thrown six innings or more in his last four starts.
Howard’s homer in the sixth — his 10th career homer at Busch Stadium — came after Utley led off with a single. It gave the Phillies a 4-0 lead.
"He’s on a good roll for us," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He’s played big in the last four wins, putting a crooked number of there and swinging a good bat."
The Phillies have won four of five and are 7-2 in their last nine games. St. Louis has lost its last two after winning five in a row.
St. Louis chased Buchanan in the eighth on a two-out single by Matt Carpenter that scored Jhonny Peralta.
Third baseman Reid Brignac was hurt on a play at first in the fifth. Matt Adams dived to nab the ball behind the base. Adams flipped it to Miller, who slid into the base for the out. Brignac extended his left foot and jammed it into the base. Brignac lay on the ground before being helped off the field with a noticeable limp. The club said Brignac sprained his ankle and will be checked Friday.
The play upset Matheny, who thought Miller should have been there sooner.
"You can’t let a fantastic play by our first baseman surprise you," Matheny said. "We’ve got guys diving all over the place. It’s one of those things you start to take for granted. We’ve seen a couple of lapses getting over there to first base. There’s not a good defense. We’ve got to do better than that."
"I didn’t think the ball was going to be fair off the bat and `Patch’ made an amazing play," Miller said. "I got over there just in time and I don’t think I would have beaten him if I didn’t slide. Hopefully, he’s OK."
NOTES: The Cardinals said P Michael Wacha will miss Sunday’s start in the series finale with the Phillies. Wacha has thrown 90 1-3 innings this season. Reliever Carlos Martinez, who started Monday against the New York Mets and threw 59 pitches, will take Wacha’s place. … St. Louis P Joe Kelly, who has been on the disabled list with a hamstring injury since the middle of April, threw a bullpen session before the game. No date has been set for a rehab start. … Cardinals P Tyler Lyons was activated Thursday from the disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Memphis. Lyons went on the DL on May 13 with a shoulder strain.