"We had a good game plan," Kendrick said. "We mixed it up, kept them off balance a lot with first-pitch changeups, sinkers down. I knew they would be aggressive, so I tried to force some early contact and get some quick outs."
Kendrick (1-4) gave up seven hits and did not allow a walk in his first win of the year. He also didn't allow a runner to reach second base until giving up a two-out double in the sixth. The right-hander threw just 94 pitches, 70 for strikes.
Phillies catcher Brian Schneider said the key to Kendrick's success was his ability to move the ball around the strike zone and locate his offspeed pitches.
"Against a team like this, there's a lot of weapons," Schneider said. "We weren't staying in one spot, [we were] trying to move the ball around, in and out. ... [Kendrick] did a good job, made some pitches and didn't make a lot of mistakes at all."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was also impressed with Schneider.
"He was good. He made lots of pitches when he had to," Matheny said. "He had good movement, good sink and controlled the counts. He didn't throw many balls outside the zone. The swings we took, we got a few hits, but just couldn't pile them together at the right time."
Kendrick lowered his ERA to 4.10 and allowed just three baserunners from the second to sixth innings. He has a 3.18 ERA over his last 21 starts stretching back to last season. After beginning the season in the bullpen, Kendrick has turned in three straight quality starts and has allowed no more than two runs in each of those outings.
With starter Vance Worley on the disabled list with bone chips and inflammation in his right elbow, Kendrick will have the opportunity to stay as the No. 5 starter in the Phillies' rotation. Worley could be healthy enough to get back into the rotation by early June, but Manuel doesn't expect to bump Kendrick out anytime soon.
"Right now, [Kendrick] stays in the rotation. Keep pitching and see what happens," Manuel said. "Tonight was his first win. I expect him to win some more games. He pitched really well tonight. We need to stay consistent."
The Phillies have not been all that consistent in providing run support for their starters this season. Cliff Lee has a 2.82 ERA, second-best of the Phillies' starters, and zero wins.
But the Philadelphia bats came alive at the right time, as the offense tagged St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia (3-3) for four runs on six hits through six innings. They also scored first for the third straight game against St. Louis.
"We need more runs," Manuel said. "We need to add on. We were fortunate enough that we got some more."
The Phillies got on the board on an RBI double by Shane Victorino in the fourth inning. Hunter Pence, who finished the game with a pair of hits, scored from first on a ball hit to the wall in left-center.
Placido Polanco doubled down the left-field line, just underneath the glove of Cardinals third baseman David Freese, to start off the sixth. Garcia then walked Pence, and after getting Ty Wigginton to pop out, walked Victorino on four pitches. John Mayberry then hit another double that narrowly avoided Freese's reach to plate two runners.
Kendrick said he had a feeling he could go the distance when he looked up to the scoreboard some time in the fifth inning and realized he'd only thrown around 40 pitches. And when he headed out for the mound in the ninth, Kendrick knew it was his game to finish.
While his role for the remainder of the season remains to be seen, Kendrick is confident and will look to keep the ball rolling.
"I'm gonna do what's best for the team," Kendrick said. "I feel like this is where I want to be. If right now my role is do what I'm doing, that's fine. That's out of my hands right now. But if I keep doing that, I'm sure I'll be starting somewhere."