After losing eight in a row in June, the Cardinals dropped their fifth straight covering the end of July and the first of August when they lost meekly to the Phillies 5-3 Tuesday night. Five straight not only meant defeats but the number of innings from the fourth on in which the Cardinals didn't even have a baserunner. Only Scott Rolen even hit the ball hard (twice) in that span as four Philadelphia pitchers flummoxed them.
Right-hander Jeff Suppan had been the strongest Cardinals pitcher in the second half of the season. He had given up only two runs in three starts before Tuesday, but he was tagged for five runs in five innings and didn't locate the ball well against the Phillies' bevy of left-handed hitters.
The top four hitters in the Phils' lineup, all batting left-handed, were 6-for-11 against Suppan (8-6).
REPLAY: St. Louisan Ryan Howard, playing for the first time in his hometown as a big-leaguer, knocked in three runs for the Phillies, including hitting his league-leading 36th homer, and Philadelphia dumped the Cardinals 5-3 Tuesday.
The Cardinals' puny attack consisted of three singles in the fourth inning, one of them a run-scoring hit by Jeff Suppan, the losing pitcher.
They scored all three runs in that inning.
--1B Albert Pujols was back in the lineup after missing one start with a hyperextended right elbow. He went 1-for-4.
--OF John Rodriguez, injured Sunday in a slide, turned out to only have a sprained ankle rather something worse. He was said to be available Tuesday but was not used. RHP Jason Marquis was the only pinch hitter used by the Cardinals.
--2B Ronnie Belliard batted seventh in his Cardinals debut and bunted home a run in the fourth inning after hitting into a double play in his first at-bat as a Cardinal in the second. He also committed a throwing error.
--RHP Jorge Sosa, acquired on Monday from Atlanta, retired all four hitters he faced in his first game with the Cardinals.
--The Cardinals have the best August record for any National League team since 2000 at 110-66.
--LHP Mark Mulder, out since June 21 with a left shoulder strain, threw a simulated game Tuesday. He fired around 50 pitches to So Taguchi, John Rodriguez and Aaron Miles. Pitching coach Dave Duncan told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Mulder might be ready for a minor league rehab assignment this weekend.
BY THE NUMBERS: 2 -- Number of runs RHP Jeff Suppan gave up in his first three starts after the All-Star break.