ST. LOUIS -- Aaron Nola extended his scoreless innings streak to 20 and Ryan Howard backed him with his sixth home run to boost the Phillies to a 1-0 victory over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Tuesday.
One night after the Cardinals blasted five home runs, Nola held the club to two hits over seven innings. In doing so, he lowered his season WHIP to 0.80, the third-lowest mark among National League starters.
"He can paint the fastball on both sides of the plate, keep hitters guessing one side or the other," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "You can't sit on one side of the plate because he's so good at locating both sides of the plate and he's got a real good breaking ball that he threw extremely well today." More >
Cardinals starter Michael Wacha was nearly as good, but paid for a sixth-inning mistake to Howard. The St. Louis native clobbered Wacha's cutter to collect his sixth home run of the season and 12th home run in 36 career games at Busch Stadium. Wacha held the Phillies hitless after the homer en route to finishing a season-high eight innings.
"[He] just put a good swing on it," Wacha said of the cutter he threw to Howard. "He doesn't miss those. I have to locate those better. I know if I execute that pitch and get to where I want, it might be a groundout or a take. But I just didn't execute it." More >
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Howard does it again: Howard continued to burn his hometown team with a 411-foot home run over the right field bullpen in the sixth. It was Howard's 22nd career home run against the Cardinals. Howard's average of a home run every 10.9 at-bats is the highest home run rate for any batter in Major League history against the Cardinals with a minimum of 150 at-bats.
"I was just looking for something up in the zone," Howard said. "He (Wacha) does a great job keeping the ball down, putting it where he wants to put it. He just kind of left that one middle and tried to take advantage of it." More >
Slim pickings: When the Cardinals wasted a leadoff double by Matt Carpenter in the first, they had no idea it would be the last runner they'd advance into scoring position against Nola. Carpenter got as far as third, moving there when Matt Holliday grounded out for the second out. Matt Adams flew out to right to end the inning.
"That was our chance to at least put something on the board," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "You hope the more looks you get the better you can make the adjustment. But he did a nice job and mixed it up."
Nasty Nola: The right-hander continued his string of dominant performances. Nola struck out seven, four of which were looking, over seven innings of two-hit ball. In his past three outings, Nola has given up one run and struck out 21 over 21 innings. He currently has a 20-inning shutout streak.
"Kind of mixing my pitches in well," Nola said. "Try to mix my change-up in more. I didn't do it too too much tonight, but when I did, I felt like I used it efficiently. Just trying to command the ball down in the zone and try to command it in and out and up."
A familiar sight: Having watched Peter Bourjos patrol the outfield for them the past two seasons, the Cardinals were not all that surprised to see the Phillies right fielder make a terrific catch along the right-field line to potentially save a run. Yadier Molina was off from first when Randal Grichuk made contact and likely would have tested Bourjos' arm if the ball had gotten past him and kicked off the wall.
"Shocking," Grichuk said of the catch. "He tracks down balls that you don't think are going to be caught. Off the bat, I thought it was going to be able to sneak in there, but he made a great play."
"Yadi's a lot faster than people think man. He's a very smart smart baseball player, period. I think he scores if Pete doesn't catch that ball." -- Howard on whether Bourjos' sliding catch in the fourth prevented Molina from scoring from first base.
STRIKEOUT HAPPY Hector Neris struck out all three Cardinals he faced in a perfect eighth inning and Jeanmar Gomez struck out another while picking up his ninth save of the season. The Phillies, who entered the game third in the majors in strikeouts, now have 98 through the team's first 27 games.
"Neris has an invisible pitch that nobody can see and Gomez, what can you say?" Mackanin said. "Gomez has been impeccable so far."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Molina was awarded an infield single after a fourth-inning replay review overturned an initial out call. Molina was awarded the two-out hit after a one-minute, 14-second review showed he beat out a throw from third baseman Maikel Franco.
WHAT'S NEXT Phillies: Lefty Adam Morgan (0-0, 5.40 ERA) will make his second start of the season in the third of a four-game series against the Cardinals on Wednesday at 8:15 p.m. EST. Morgan made his major league debut against the Cardinals last season, allowing one run in 5 2/3 innings in a 9-2 victory on June 21.
Cardinals:Mike Leake is still searching for his first win with the Cardinals, and he'll get another crack at earning it on Tuesday when the Cardinals continue their four-game series against the Phillies. Leake has allowed at least four runs in each of his starts this season.