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Howard homers, drives in 3, Buchanan pitches into 8th; Phillies top Cardinals 4-1

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ST. LOUIS - As far as Ryan Howard is concerned, there is no place like home.

Howard, a St. Louis native, homered and drove in three runs and rookie David Buchanan pitched into the eighth inning Thursday night, sparking the Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Howard has hit safely in 22 of 27 regular season games at Busch Stadium. He has 38 RBIs in St. Louis and a .374 batting average.

It was Howard's first time playing in his hometown since 2011. Injuries caused him to miss chances in 2012 and 2013.

"It's always good to be able to come back home and play in front of family and friends," Howard said. "It's a very familiar feeling. It's always good to be back."

Howard also has been hot on the road. In his last 15 games away from Philadelphia, he is hitting .350 with three homers and 14 RBIs.

"He's on a good roll for us," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's played big in the last four wins, putting a crooked number of there and swinging a good bat."

Buchanan (3-3) made his deepest start yet, pitching 7 2-3 innings. He threw 105 pitches and kept the Cardinals off balance and off the scoreboard until the eighth. Buchanan allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four.

Not wearing out the bullpen is important to Buchanan.

"I've been wanting to go deep into the ballgame to help the team out, not always have the bullpen get nervous when I come into games," Buchanan said. "Overall, I had great plays made behind me. It was fun. Great run support. So, it was a good game. It was fun.

Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth to pick up 17th save in 19 opportunities.

Shelby Miller (7-6) gave up seven hits and three walks in 6 2-3 innings. Miller has thrown six innings or more in his last four starts.

Philadelphia touched Miller for two runs in the fourth. Carlos Ruiz doubled and Chase Utley singled to lead off the inning. Howard singled home Ruiz and Utley scored on Domonic Brown's sacrifice fly.

Howard's homer in the sixth — his 10th career homer at Busch Stadium — came after Utley led off with a single. Howard went to the opposite field and his ball just flew inside the left field foul pole. It was his 14th this season and 325th of his career. It gave the Phillies a 4-0 lead.

"I wasn't sure if the ball was going to stay fair or not," Howard said. "Off the bat, it started to kind of slice. I wasn't sure if it was going to go out. I was a little surprised, but I'm not mad at it."

Miller was surprised to see it slip over the fence.

"It was a little bit in," Miller said of the pitch. "I didn't think he got it all. He hit it in the right spot. The ball was in his numbers. He's just a good hitter."

The Cardinals had runners at first and third with one out in the second inning but Buchanan pitched out the jam and then again in the sixth when Miller doubled to lead off. Four of Miller's five hits this season have been doubles.

"He rose to the occasion and I think he has that kind of makeup and that kind of character," Sandberg said. "He seems to be showing improvement. It looks like he's growing out there.

"For him to go four times through the lineup, that says something about the stuff that he had. Him having to make adjustments the third and fourth time through, that was very good."

St. Louis chased Buchanan in the eighth on a two-out single by Matt Carpenter that scored Jhonny Peralta.

"I was upset there with the leadoff walk in the eighth," Buchanan said. "I was really wanting to get through that. But that happens."

The rookie's performance impressed St. Louis manager Mike Matheny.

"He had good stuff," Matheny said. "There were not a lot of surprises. He had stuff that we couldn't get on tonight."

Third baseman Reid Brignac was hurt on a play at first in the fifth. Matt Adams dived to nab the ball behind the base. Adams flipped it to Miller, who slid into the base for the out. Brignac extended his left foot and jammed it into the base. Brignac lay on the ground before being helped off the field with a noticeable limp. The club said Brignac sprained his ankle and will be re-evaluated Friday.

NOTES: The Cardinals said P Michael Wacha will miss Sunday's start in the series finale with the Phillies. Wacha has thrown 90 1-3 innings this season. Reliever Carlos Martinez, who started Monday against the New York Mets and threw 59 pitches, will take Wacha's place. ... St. Louis P Joe Kelly, who has been on the disabled list with a hamstring injury since the middle of April, threw a bullpen session before the game. No date has been set for a rehab start. ... Cardinals P Tyler Lyons was activated Thursday from the disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Memphis. Lyons went on the DL on May 13 with a shoulder strain. ... Philadelphia SS Jimmy Rollins and 2B Utley have started 1,130 games together as a double-play combination, the most among all active combos in the leagues. ... Rollins extended his hitting streak to 13 games.

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