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Cards drop Marlins to 7 behind Phils

The Phillies have the St. Louis Cardinals' outfield to thank for padding their cushion in the National League East last night.

The Phillies have the St. Louis Cardinals' outfield to thank for padding their cushion in the National League East last night.

Cardinals leftfielder Matt Holliday and centerfielder Colby Rasmus each drove in three runs and rightfielder Ryan Ludwick had two RBI in an 11-6 victory over the visiting Florida Marlins.

With the loss, second-place Florida fell to seven games behind the Phillies.

The Cardinals jumped on Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco (11-9) for four runs in the first inning, on two-run singles by Holliday and Ludwick.

Florida answered with Cody Ross' RBI single in the second and a run-scoring doubleplay in the third inning to cut St. Louis' lead to 4-2.

The Marlins took the lead with a four-run fourth inning, featuring a two-run triple by Chris Coghlan and a two-run homer by Nick Johnson, to go up by 6-4.

The lead was short-lived, as the Cards scored three in the bottom of the fourth. Two scored on Julio Lugo's two-run triple, and Lugo scored on an Albert Pujols sacrifice fly.

It remained a one-run game until the eighth inning, when the Cards rallied for four runs with two outs. Holliday doubled in one run, then Rasmus connected for a three-run homer, his 16th of the season, to extend the St. Louis lead to 11-6.

Blake Hawksworth (4-0) got the win in relief of spot starter Todd Wellemeyer, who allowed six runs in four innings subbing for John Smoltz (shoulder tendinitis).

In other games:

* At Cincinnati, Jay Bruce hit a go-ahead single as a pinch-hitter in his return from the disabled list and Brandon Phillips homered to help the Reds beat the Houston Astros, 3-1. Bruce, out since fracturing his right wrist trying to make a diving catch July 11, bounced a two-run single through the right side to give Cincinnati a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning. Winning pitcher Bronson Arroyo (13-12) allowed six hits and one run with no walks and six strikeouts in seven innings.

* At Chicago, Ryan Dempster pitched eight shutout innings and Derrek Lee homered for the seventh time in 10 games, carrying the Cubs to a 2-0 victory over Milwaukee. Dempster (10-8) joined John Smoltz as the only pitchers to follow three 20-save seasons with two 10-win seasons as a starter.


* Randy Johnson (torn rotator cuff) was encouraged with his performance in a simulated game and hopes to return to pitch out of the bullpen for San Francisco during the stretch run. Johnson, 45, injured his left shoulder more than 2 months ago.