ST. LOUIS - A night that began with the Phillies wondering what they'd be able to get out of righthander Roy Oswalt, who was making his first big-league start in 3 weeks, ended with a pair of completely different worries.

Something old. Something new.

The lineup continued to sputter in a 2-1 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The Phillies have now dropped four straight and lead second-place Florida by a half-game in the National League East.

And promising 24-year-old righthander Michael Stutes had to leave the game after throwing just three pitches. It was later announced that he suffered a strained right side.

The encouraging development was that Oswalt, who admitted a day earlier that he might need a couple starts to get back to where he was before missing time with a lower back inflammation and to return to his Mississippi home to help clean up after severe tornado damage, pitched pretty well.

Because he was on a pitch count, he came out after five innings. But he allowed just a run on seven hits. He threw 76 pitches, 48 for strikes and his fastball was consistently in the low- to mid-90s according to the scoreboard radar.

Ryan Theriot led off the bottom of the ninth with a dribbler up the middle that neither pitcher Danys Baez or second baseman Pete Orr could make a play on. Jon Jay followed with a single. Fearsome Albert Pujols blooped a base hit to right. Unable to get a jump, Theriot had to stop at third, but St. Louis had the bases loaded with nobody out.

Matt Holliday grounded into a force play at the plate and J.C. Romero came out of the bullpen to face Lance Berkman who drove the first pitch he saw over the drawn-up outfield to end the game.