ST. LOUIS -- Famous for collapses, the Philadelphia Phillies came close to adding another chapter.
They led 11-0 in the sixth. And then they were ahead 12-11 in the eighth when Ryan Ludwick drove a pitch to deep center-field with two on.
Aaron Rowand went back and prevented the tying and go-ahead runs from scoring with a tumbling catch on the warning track that ended the eighth inning, and the Phillies narrowly avoided a monumental collapse when they held on for a 13-11 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night.
"That was unreal," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. "I'm telling you, you never have enough runs."
Ryan Howard hit a grand slam and a solo homer for the Phillies, who led 11-0 in the sixth inning and were clinging to a 12-11 lead when Rowand hauled in Ryan Ludwick's drive with two on in the eighth. Rowand then homered in the ninth, and Francisco Rosario threw a called third strike past Russell Branyan with two on and two out to earn his first career save.
"You try and score as many runs as you can," Howard said. "In this case, we really needed it."
Philadelphia, which swept New York over the weekend, pulled within 2½ games of the NL East-leading Mets with its fifth straight win and moved a season-best 12 games above .500. The Phillies remained 1½ games behind San Diego in the wild-card race.
Rowand and Jimmy Rollins also homered in the fourth, and Howard's fifth career grand slam off reliever Anthony Reyes in the sixth made it 11-0. But the Cardinals responded with three of their own in the sixth, six more in the seventh and two runs in the eighth.
"It was one of the better almosts that I can remember in all the years I've managed," manager Tony La Russa said.
The Cardinals beat up on a bullpen missing the Phillies' top three relievers -- Brett Myers, Tom Gordon and J.C. Romero -- unavailable because of frequent use. Myers and Gordon had pitched the previous three days.
"I know they needed the rest and things like that. Yeah I wanted to put them in, you're damn right," Manuel said. "I wanted to put all three of them in."
Ludwick hit a two-run homer and Albert Pujols had an RBI single in the sixth, Kyle Kendrick's final inning, and Pujols and Aaron Miles had two RBI apiece as the Cardinals jumped on Clay Condrey in the seventh.
Rick Ankiel had a sacrifice fly in the seventh for his first RBI since reports surfaced that he purchased a year's supply of human growth hormone in 2004. Ankiel hit two homers and had seven RBI on Sept. 6, but was 4-for-33 the next 10 games.
Skip Schumaker's RBI single off Kane Davis, his third hit of the game, cut the gap to 12-11 before Rowand's catch ended the eighth. The All-Star center fielder ran to the track and twisted around when the ball tailed back into him, bringing it in as he tumbled backward.
No team has taken an 11-run lead and lost in a major league game since Aug. 5, 2001, when Seattle had a 12-run lead and lost 15-14 in 11 innings at Cleveland, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Howard, who grew up in suburban Wildwood, has six homers, 17 RBI and a .362 average (21-for-58) in 14 career games against the Cardinals, hitting safely in every game. He was 2-for-13 with a double and no RBI in the Phillies' three-game sweep of the Mets.
Both of Howard's homers, giving him 40 on the year, went to the opposite field. He connected on the first pitch of the second from Brad Thompson (6-6), and lined a 1-2 pitch from Reyes into the visitor's bullpen in left in the sixth.
Kendrick (9-4) gave up three runs and seven hits. The 23-year-old right-hander is tied with the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo for the NL lead in victories by a rookie and has won both of his starts against the Cardinals, also beating them on July 13 with a career-best seven innings.
"I lost focus a little bit, left some balls up, and they're going to hit them," Kendrick said. "I'll learn from that."
Thompson was the first of consecutive fill-in starters for the drooping Cardinals, with La Russa committed only to Adam Wainwright, Braden Looper and Joel Pineiro the rest of the way. Thompson lasted 3 1/3 innings and allowed four runs, three earned, in only his second start since July 28.
Todd Wellemeyer will pitch the second game of the series on Tuesday night, making his first start since July 9.
The Phillies are 5-2 against the Cardinals this year and 14-5 in their last 19 games in St. Louis.
- Thompson is 0-3 with a 5.71 ERA in 15 outings since the All-Star break, five of them starts. He's 0-2 with a 11.57 ERA against the Phillies this year, giving up nine earned runs in seven innings in three games.
- Kendrick has walked only 10 in his last 10 starts covering 60 1/3 innings.
- The Phillies have hit 29 homers in their last 18 games against the Cardinals.