ST. LOUIS (AP) -
was one of five St. Louis Cardinals who took a called third strike against
. It was a solid indicator that the Phillies' right-hander was on his game.
Blanton won for the first time since joining Philadelphia in a mid-July trade with the Athletics, riding home runs from
to a 2-1 victory on Saturday night.
His biggest strikeout froze Pujols with two on to end the third.
''Sometimes as a starter, those at-bats can kind of be the ones that make or break the game,'' Blanton said. ''I wanted to
make tough pitches and hopefully make something good happen.''
Dobbs, who leads the majors with 20 pinch hits, hit his fourth homer of the season on the first pitch of the third from
(10-9). Howard hit his 31st for his National League-leading 96th RBI with two outs in the fourth.
The NL East-leading Phillies have homered in 11 straight games, totaling 19, and have won six of seven.
''They've got a really good lineup and if you make mistakes they make you pay,'' Looper said. ''Unfortunately I made one too
many, and it's kind of a tough one to swallow.''
Howard, who is from the St. Louis suburb of Wildwood, also walked three times and is 12-for-27 (.444) against the Cardinals
this season, with six homers, 15 RBIs and eight walks. For his career, he's batting .363 against St. Louis with 12 homers
and 32 RBIs, and he's 4-for-5 against Looper with three homers and five RBIs.
''I don't know if we want to play the Cardinals every day, because they're pretty good, but Howard seems to play pretty good
against them,'' manager
said. ''I think he feels comfortable here. He's around his people and he's relaxed.''
Howard said his manager's comments were right on the money.
''You grew up playing here in front of your family and friends,'' Howard said. ''To be able to do it at the major league level,
it's just like playing back when you were 15.''
Knowing his history against Howard, Looper said he tried to mix things up. To no avail.
''Every mistake I throw to him, he seems to hit out of the ballpark,'' Looper said. ''I'm kind of mad at myself. I went into
that game not wanting
to beat me and he ended up kind of beating me.''
homered for the third time in two games, his 26th overall, for the Cardinals. The drive landed in Big Mac Land, the third
deck in left, and was estimated at 427 feet.
''I've been pretty much streaky. I think most power guys are like that,'' Ludwick said. ''You always hear that term, that
they come in bunches. But I really only had one good at-bat.''
Blanton (1-0) allowed four hits in seven innings and all five of his strikeouts came on called third strikes. He's 6-12 overall
and had been saddled with a 6.65 ERA in his previous 12 outings while going 3-6.
''He kept us off balance, moved the ball around the strike zone and just off the strike zone,'' Cardinals manager
Tony La Russa
said. ''He did a good job of mixing things up.''
on a double-play ball to end the eighth and
finished for his 27th save in 27 chances and extend his franchise record to 30 in a row dating to Sept. 25, 2007, at Cincinnati.
The Phillies are 49-0 when leading after eight innings and Lidge took care of the heart of the St. Louis order, working around
a two-out walk to
and a wild pitch on his first delivery to pinch hitter
before finishing him off with a strikeout.