ST. LOUIS -- As they have proven over and over this season, the St. Louis Cardinals tend to thrive when down to their last strike. Generating nine of its 16 hits with two strikes, St. Louis pushed its record to a season-high 24 games over .500 Wednesday night with an 11-3 blowout of struggling Philadelphia at sold-out Busch Stadium. Shane Robinson went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and Yadier Molina also went 3-for-5 as the Cardinals (61-37) remained 1 1/2 games ahead of Pittsburgh in the National League Central. They also went 9-for-20 with runners in scoring position in winning for the 11th time in 14 games. "A lot of people get nervous," first baseman Matt Adams said of hitting with two strikes. "But I focus in more and I think this team does, too." Adams gave the first demonstration of St. Louis' ability to produce when behind in the count, chopping an 0-2 pitch from John Lannan (2-4) over the head of first baseman Darin Ruf for a two-run single in the bottom of the second, which started the night's scoring. The Cardinals' willingness to hit according to game situations and not just mindlessly swing for the fences explains why they've averaged six runs per game on their current homestand despite not hitting a homer. "We take a lot of pride in manufacturing runs," manager Mike Matheny said. "We'll hit homers, but when you put together good at-bats like this team has done, good things happen." After knocking Lannan out after four innings, eight hits, four runs and 87 pitches, St. Louis pounced on J.C. Ramirez in a 41-pitch, five-run fifth inning. David Freese and Adams each produced RBI doubles -- both with two strikes -- to make it 6-1. With two outs and the bases loaded, Robinson ended the game's competitive phase with a three-run triple to center field that bounced in front of and over a diving John Mayberry Jr. Nine Cardinals had hits and seven knocked in runs, including Brock Peterson, whose pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth was the first major-league hit for the 11-year veteran of the minor leagues. Even pitcher Jake Westbrook joined in the fun, stealing the second base of his 12-year big league career in the fourth, a pitch before Matt Carpenter scored him with a single to left-center field. "The first one I had, it was a first-and-third spot and they didn't throw down (to second)," Westbrook said. "So this was a bit more legit." Westbrook (7-4) scattered nine hits and allowed three runs over seven innings, walking none and fanning two in picking up his second straight win. While St. Louis kept rolling, the Phillies (49-52) might have moved a step closer to becoming sellers by the July 31 trading deadline. It was their fourth straight loss and dropped them eight games behind Atlanta in the NL East. "We're definitely optimistic," Mayberry Jr. said. "We have faith that we can win and that's not going to change." NOTES: Philadelphia LF Domonic Brown won't start until at least Friday after suffering concussionlike symptoms Tuesday night. Brown was injured while diving for a triple by St. Louis' Carlos Beltran in the seventh inning. Brown leads the team with 24 homers and 69 RBIs. ... Although the Cardinals haven't officially tipped their hand, it appears as though they'll tap Joe Kelly to make the start Saturday in Atlanta, the first time they'll need a No. 5 starter since July 12. On that day, Kelly pitched into the sixth inning of a 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs. ... The Phillies designated veteran C Humberto Quintero for assignment and called up utility man Michael Martinez from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. It's Martinez's third stint with the big club this year.
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