ST. LOUIS - Phillies manager Charlie Manuel held Shane Victorino out of the starting lineup last night because he believes his high-energy centerfielder benefits from some rest now and then.

As it turned out, Victorino only got six innings of downtime. He came off the bench late in the game and provided the big blow in the Phillies' 5-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

Victorino entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. An inning later, he broke a 2-2 tie with a three-run homer off St. Louis reliever Russ Springer.

"We got him off his feet and that made him stronger," joked Manuel after closer Brad Lidge survived a tense ninth inning for his 28th save.

The Cardinals scrapped for a run in the eighth and another in the ninth and loaded the bases against Lidge with one out in the ninth.

Lidge, who threw 26 pitches in the inning, survived the scare by striking out the final two batters of the game, rookies Nick Stavinoha and Joe Mather.

The win boosted the Phils' lead over the Florida Marlins and New York Mets in the National League East to 21/2 and 3 games, respectively. Both of those clubs lost yesterday. The Phils open a series against Florida tomorrow night.

"This was a great way to end a road trip, going into a big series against Florida," Victorino said.

In addition to increasing their lead in the division, the Phils got another solid start from Brett Myers, who is making progress in his attempt to transform himself from punching bag to reliable starting pitcher.

Myers allowed just two runs over six innings before exiting for a pinch-hitter in the seventh. Myers left a fastball up to Ryan Ludwick in the fourth and the Cardinals' cleanup man belted his fourth homer of the series.

"I think he got a little stubborn against Ludwick," Manuel said. "He went right at him - about 450 feet worth. But he did well. He pitched pretty good."

All in all, Myers had good command. He walked none and threw just 64 pitches.

One night after posting a 2-1 win, the Phils' offense again sputtered through the first seven innings. Cardinals starter Todd Wellemeyer, who gave up eight runs in three innings against the Phils on June 13, held the Phils to just a run (a Chase Utley homer) over six-plus innings.

The Phils had three big hits in the eighth - all with two outs. Ryan Howard kept the inning alive with a single. Pat Burrell tied it with an RBI single one batter before Victorino's three-run homer.

All of this was made possible by a tremendous baserunning play by Utley, who legged out what might have been an inning-ending double play to keep the threat alive.

The go-ahead homer was Victorino's 10th of the season. Manuel let Victorino hit on 3-and-0 and Victorino fouled the pitch off. He homered on the next pitch.

"It felt great to do something like that," Victorino said. "I was looking for a pitch to drive and was lucky enough to hit it out."

Read Todd Zolecki's Phillies blog at http://go.philly.com

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Contact staff writer Jim Salisbury at 215-854-4983 or jsalisbury@phillynews.com.