A SAVAGE argument-turned-bloodbath left doors hanging off their hinges and surfaces splattered with blood inside a South Philadelphia rowhouse early Wednesday after two men - one wielding a hammer, the other a knife - violently hacked away at each other while two young boys watched, police said.

The two men, whom cops believe knew each other, were inside a house on Dudley Street near 5th with the boys, ages 9 and 11, when the victims started to argue shortly before 3 a.m.

The argument turned violent, cops said, and a man they believe is the children's stepfather was severely beaten with a hammer by the other man, who remains unidentified. Cops said the stepfather stabbed the other man at least 10 times - in the head, chest, neck, back, abdomen and arm.

That man stumbled out of the house and made it to McKean Street between 4th and 5th, cops said, before he collapsed in the middle of the street. He was pronounced dead there at 3:05 a.m.

Investigators said a trail of blood dotted with bloodstained cash - including a $100 bill - marked the last steps the man took around the corner and south on 5th Street.

Despite the cash, cops said they do not believe robbery motivated the savagery. They were unsure Wednesday what the men had been fighting over.

The man who was beaten with the hammer later showed up at Methodist Hospital, where he was reported in critical but stable condition. He was later transferred to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, cops said, where he was being held as a prisoner pending further investigation.

Police said the boys were not physically harmed and were taken in to be interviewed by homicide detectives.

Contact Morgan Zalot at 215-854-5928 or zalotm@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @morganzalot. Read her blog PhillyConfidential.com.