Game Report: Cardinals 6, Phillies 5

By Rob Rains

Where Dexter Fowler hits in the Cardinals lineup is not nearly as important as how he hits. He proved that again on Sunday.

Fowler’s three-run homer in the fifth inning erased a 2-0 deficit and sent the Cardinals to the win over the Phillies, completing a sweep of the three-game series at Busch Stadium.

The Phillies tried to mount a comeback of their own in the ninth, scoring twice against Cardinals’ closer Seung Hwan Oh but fell a run short as their losing streak reached five consecutive games.

Fowler was moved into the second spot in the Cardinals’ batting order four games ago, with Matt Carpenter inserted back into his preferred leadoff spot. The Cardinals are 3-1 with Carpenter hitting first and Fowler second, and the two are a combined 10-of-30 with two homers and seven RBIs in those four games.

“For whatever reason certain guys like to hit in certain spots,” said manager Mike Matheny. “I don’t care where guys are as long as guys are on base. We’re just trying to find that good rhythm.

“We needed a big hit and Dex supplied it. We had been pretty much held down. We needed somebody to do something special and Dex did it.”

The Cardinals had managed just two hits off Aaron Nola going to fifth. Kolten Wong led off with a double before a walk put another runner on base. With two outs, Fowler turned on a 3-1 fastball and sent it into the seats in right field for his ninth homer of the year, eight of which have given his team the lead.

“It sure seems like they are big whenever he hits them,” Matheny said. “He’s putting together those kinds of at-bats that haunted us when he was playing against us. Opposing teams see that top of the order rolling around, and that’s kind of what we envisioned as this season began.”

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: Following Fowler’s home run, the Cardinals added three insurance runs which turned out to provide the difference in the game. Tommy Pham had two hits, drove in a run, stole a base and scored twice … Eric Fryer, catching all three games in the series in place of Yadier Molina, had an RBI single for the second game in a row … Wong had two doubles and an RBI and was 5-of-10 in the three-game series.

On the mound: Adam Wainwright got the win, scattering six hits over five innings. He gave up both of the runs against him in the first two innings, when he needed 50 pitches to get the first six outs … Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side in the eighth before Oh got the save in the ninth despite giving up four hits and two runs, leaving the would-be tying run stranded on second base.

Key stat: The combination of Fowler and Carpenter (11 homers) has hit 20 home runs so far this season. The other six regulars have combined to hit 28 homers.

Worth noting: Fryer became only the third catcher besides Molina to catch a Cardinals shutout since 2006 on Saturday, working the game with Carlos Martinez. Cardinal pitchers have thrown 30 shutouts over that period, and Molina has caught 27 of them. The other two catchers to catch a shutout were Jason LaRue in 2008 and Tony Cruz in 2014 … The Phillies’ run in the first was only the second allowed by the Cardinals in the first inning in 32 home games this season. The other was a homer by Mookie Betts of the Red Sox off Lance Lynn ... The Cardinals are now 8-2 when Fryer has been the starting catcher this season.

Looking ahead: After Monday’s day off, the Cardinals will play a day-night doubleheader against the Brewers on Tuesday. Lynn will start the first game and Marco Gonzales will be recalled from Memphis to pitch the night game. It will be his first game in the majors since Sept. 1, 2015, after he missed all of last season because of Tommy John surgery.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains