Ryan Howard has hit four home runs in five career at-bats against Braden Looper. The most recent of them came with two outs in the fourth inning last night in St Louis. Howard’s solo shot was one of two runs the Phillies scored in the game — they won in large part because Joe Blanton gave them the kind of start they were hoping for when they traded for him last month.

Blanton went seven innings, allowing a run on four hits and two walks. Romero, Durbin and Lidge shut the Cards down in the eighth and the ninth.

The Phillies beat the St Louis Cardinals last night, winning 2-1 to improve to 60-50 on the season. The teams have split the first two games of the three-game series. The Phils are in first place in the NL East — with a late-inning collapse in Houston last night the Mets are in third place, two games behind the Phils. The Phillies lead the Marlins by a game and a half.

Blanton got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing a run on four hits and two walks. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a home run. He struck out five.

He walked Albert Pujols with two outs in the first, but struck Ryan Ludwick out behind him.

He threw a 1-2-3 second.

He started the third up 1-0. Aaron Miles drew a walk with one out before Schumaker moved Miles to second with a single. Blanton struck Joe Mather out looking and then struck out Pujols looking at a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

Up 2-0 in the fourth, he set the Cards down 1-2-3.

Adam Kennedy led off the fifth with a single and pitcher Braden Looper bunted him to second for the first out. Miles was next and lined a ball to Utley at second. Utley threw to second to double Kennedy off and end the inning.

He had another 1-2-3 inning in the sixth.

Ludwick led off the seventh and pounded a 1-1 pitch out to left, cutting the Phillies’ lead to 2-1. Third home run in two games for Ludwick. Blanton got Troy Glaus to ground to short before Yadier Molina singled into center. Kennedy flew to right and righty Nick Stavinoha hit for the pitcher Looper and popped to Rollins.

Romero started the eighth with a one run lead and gave up a leadoff single to Miles. Switch-hitter Cesar Izturis hit for lefty Skip Schumaker and Romero struck him out for the first out. Righty Joe Mather was next and Manuel called on Durbin to come on and pitch to him. Durbin got behind Mather 2-0 but got him to hit a 2-2 pitch into a double-play to end the inning.

Lidge started the ninth. Pujols led off and hit a rocket to short that Rollins took and threw to first for the first out. Lidge struck out Ludwick on a 2-2 slider in the dirt for the second out, with Ruiz throwing to first to retire the batter. Glaus was next and Lidge walked him on a high 3-2 fastball. Brendan Ryan ran for Glaus as the tying run. Lefty Rick Ankiel, who had been left out of the lineup with an abdominal strain, hit for Yadier Molina and Lidge’s first pitch to him was wild and moved Ryan to second. After that Lidge threw three straight strikes, getting Ankiel swinging to end the game.

Two scoreless innings for the pen in which they allow a single and a walk. Lidge threw 16 pitches, Romero ten and Durbin six. None of the three had pitched on Friday.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Braden Looper went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Werth (7) Dobbs (8) Coste. Werth in right despite the righty with Dobbs playing third. I think you may have to conclude that Manuel does not want to put both Jenkins and Dobbs in the lineup against a righty cause he wants to have a lefty on the bench to call on to pinch-hit. I think I’d put them both in the lineup. Coste catches.

The Phils went 1-2-3 on three popups in the first.

Howard led off the second with a walk, but Burrell struck out and Werth hit into a double-play. Howard came into the game 3-for-4 in his career against Looper with three home runs.

Dobbs led off the third and hit the first pitch he saw out to right. It put the Phils up 1-0. The Phils went in order behind him.

With two outs in the fourth, Howard hit a 3-2 pitch out to right-center. 2-0. Burrell flew to center for the third out.

Coste singled with two outs in the fifth, but Blanton struck out behind him.

1-2-3 in the sixth.

Howard led off the seventh with a walk. Burrell hit into a double-play and Werth grounded to short.

With two outs in the eighth, Bruntlett hit for Blanton and walked. The catcher Molina picked him off first with Rollins at the plate to end the inning. Second time in two days Bruntlett has been picked off. Yesterday it was the pitcher.

Utley doubled with two outs in the ninth. Howard was walked intentionally to put men on first and second for Burrell, but Burrell flew to center for the third out.

Rollins 0-for-4.

Victorino 0-for-4.

Utley 1-for-4 with a double.

Howard 1-for-1 with his 31st home run and three walks.

Burrell 0-for-4 and left four men on base.

Werth 0-for-3.

Dobbs 1-for-3 with his fourth home run.

Coste 1-for-3.

Brett Myers (4-9, 5.46) faces righty Todd Wellemeyer (8-4, 4.13) tonight. The Phillies pounded Wellemeyer on June 13 — Wellemeyer was charged with eight runs in 3 1/3 innings in that game. Wellemeyer has been pretty good in his last two starts, allowing just two runs in each game but going just 11 innings combined. He has a 4.96 ERA with a 1.52 ratio in 11 starts at home this year and a 3.28 ERA with a 1.09 ratio in ten starts away. Myers was great on Tuesday against the Nats, holding Washington to an unearned run in seven innings. He hasn’t allowed a home run in his last two starts, which is critical for him since he’s allowed 24 in 113 2/3 innings this year. Righties are also hitting .316 against him compared to .226 for lefties. Righties hit for a higher average against Myers in 2007, 2004 and 2003 as well, but not as dramatically as they have this season.