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Streaking Phillies pull to within 2½ games of Mets

• Hunt for October: The Phillies, 1½ games behind San Diego in the wild-card race, pulled within 2½ games of the NL East-leading Mets.

• Defense wins games: Rowand rescued the Phillies with a tumbling catch on the warning track to prevent the tying and go-ahead runs from scoring in the eighth.

• Unsung hero: Ryan Howard hit a grand slam and a solo homer for the Phillies. Howard now has 40 home runs on the season.

• Figure this: No team has taken an 11-run lead and lost in a major league game since Aug. 5, 2001, when Seattle had a 12-run lead and lost 15-14 in 11 innings at Cleveland.

• Quotable: "You try and score as many runs as you can. In this case, we really needed it." -- Howard

-- ESPN.com news services

Phillies 13, Cardinals 11

ST. LOUIS -- Famous for collapses, the Philadelphia Phillies
came close to adding another chapter.

They led 11-0 in the sixth. And then they were ahead 12-11 in
the eighth when Ryan Ludwick drove a pitch to deep center-field
with two on.

Aaron Rowand went back and prevented the tying and go-ahead runs
from scoring with a tumbling catch on the warning track, and the
Phillies held on for a 13-11 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals
on Monday night.

Whew!

"That was unreal," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said.
"I'm telling you, you never have enough runs."

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 Ludwick's drive with two on in the
eighth. Rowand then homered in the ninth, and Francisco Rosario
threw a called third strike past Russell Branyan with two on and
two out to earn his first career save.

"You try and score as many runs as you can," Howard said. "In
this case, we really needed it."

Philadelphia, which swept New York over the weekend, pulled
within 2½ games of the NL East-leading Mets with its fifth straight
win and moved a season-best 12 games above .500. The Phillies
remained 1½ 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.

"It was one of the better almosts that I can remember in all
the years I've managed," manager Tony La Russa said.

The Cardinals beat up on a bullpen missing the Phillies' top
three relievers -- Brett Myers, Tom Gordon and J.C. Romero --
unavailable because of frequent use. Myers and Gordon had pitched
the previous three days.

"I know they needed the rest and things like that. Yeah I
wanted to put them in, you're damn right," Manuel said. "I wanted
to put all three of them in."

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.
The All-Star center fielder ran to the track and twisted around
when the ball tailed back into him, bringing it in as he tumbled
backward.

No team has taken an 11-run lead and lost in a major league game
since Aug. 5, 2001, when Seattle had a 12-run lead and lost 15-14
in 11 innings at Cleveland, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Philadelphia's most notorious collapse was in 1964, when it held
a 6½-game lead with 12 to play and blew the NL title by losing 10
straight.

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.

"I lost focus a little bit, left some balls up, and they're
going to hit them," Kendrick said. "I'll learn from that."

Thompson was the first of consecutive fill-in starters for the
drooping Cardinals, with 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.

Todd Wellemeyer will pitch the second game of the series on
Tuesday night, making his first start since July 9.

The Phillies are 5-2 against the Cardinals this year and 14-5 in
their last 19 games in St. Louis.

Game notes
Thompson is 0-3 with a 5.71 ERA in 15 outings since the
All-Star break, five of them starts. He's 0-2 with a 11.57 ERA
against the Phillies this year, giving up nine earned runs in seven
innings in three games. ... Kendrick has walked only 10 in his last
10 starts covering 60 1/3 innings. ... The Phillies have hit 29
homers in their last 18 games against the Cardinals.