Howard, Nola spark Phillies to 1-0 win over Cardinals
ST. LOUIS — Ryan Howard still gets psyched up to play in St. Louis.
The Philadelphia first baseman homered and Aaron Nola threw seven innings to lead the Phillies to a 1-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.
Philadelphia has won seven of eight while St. Louis has lost five of six.
Howard, a St. Louis native, has 12 homers and 40 RBIs in 36 games in Busch Stadium.
"This is home, this is where it all began for me," Howard said. "I guess, being at home, I do feel I see the ball a lot better."
Howard has 22 homers in 66 career games against the Cardinals, his favorite boyhood team.
"For some reason guys hit well in certain ballparks," Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin said. "It was good to see him bust out."
Howard broke out of an 0-for-12 skid with a sixth-inning homer off Michael Wacha (2-2) that traveled 411 feet. Howard, who attended Lafayette High in the St. Louis suburb of Wildwood, picked on the first pitch.
"I was just looking for something up in the zone," Howard said. "He does a great job of keeping the ball down and putting it where he wants to put it. He kind of left that one over the middle and I tried to take advantage of it."
Wacha admitted he made a mistake.
"A backed up cutter, I left it over the middle," Wacha said. "He put a good swing on it. He doesn't miss those."
Nola (2-2) allowed two hits and struck out seven in a career-high 111-pitch stint. He has a string of 20 consecutive scoreless innings dating to April 22. Nola, who retired the last 10 batters, has given up one run or fewer in four of six starts this season.
"I feel like I'm mixing my pitches in well," Nola said. "I've been trying to throw my changeup a little more. And tonight, when I did it, I felt like I used it efficiently."
Jeanmar Gomez picked up his ninth save in as many opportunities. Hector Neris struck out the side in the eighth.
Right fielder Peter Bourjos made a diving catch of a sinking liner by Randal Grichuk to end the fourth inning with Yadier Molina on base.
Wacha gave up one run and five hits in eight innings. He struck out eight and walked three.
"What a great outing, he had everything," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "It's shame we weren't able to get a little more going offensively."
The Cardinals also threatened in the first inning. Matt Carpenter led off with a double, but Nola retired the next three hitters in order.
The Cardinals have scored a major league-best 61 runs after the sixth inning this season. They have hit 19 home runs in that stretch, also tops in the majors.
Cardinals: OF Tommy Pham, who took batting practice on Monday, will likely go out on a rehab assignment in the next few days. Pham has missed 26 games after being placed on the DL with a left oblique strain on April 4.
Phillies: LHP Adam Morgan (0-0, 5.40) will make his second start of the season in the third game of the four-game series on Wednesday. Morgan gave up three runs in five innings of a 4-3 win over Cleveland on Friday.
Cardinals: RHP Mike Leake (0-3, 5.83) will start for the Cardinals. He has given up four or more runs in all five starts this season. Leake, who was signed as a free agent on Dec. 23 after six years with Cincinnati, is 2-3 with a 6.00 ERA in eight career starts against Phillies.