Joaquin Andujar and Bruce Sutter pitched a nine-hitter and George Hendrick got a two-run double as the Cardinals beat the second-place Philadelphia Phillies, 4-1, last night in St. Louis to open a 5 1/2-game lead in the NL East.
It was the Cardinals' eighth straight victory and reduced their magic number for the division title to eight.
Andujar (14-10) was won six straight and fourth straight against the Phillies. He extended his string of shutout innings to 29 2/3, longest in the NL this season, before yielding a run in the seventh.
"A lot of people malign our pitching staff but if it wasn't for them we wouldn't be where we are," Tom Herr of the Cardinals said. "Our offense hasn't been what we feel it's capable of. If not for our pitching, we wouldn't be there. The pitching has just been unbelievable."
The Cardinals scored in the first on Herr's single, a throwing error and Keith Hernandez's grounder.
Ex-St. Louis right-hander John Denny (0-2) gave up three more runs in the fifth. Herr walked and moved up on a grounder, Hernandez was walked intentionally, and Hendrick and Willie McGee doubled.
Philadelphia's run came in the seventh on Virgil's leadoff double and ground outs by Ivan DeJesus and pinch hitter Bob Molinaro.
Andujuar left the game after walking two in the seventh and Sutter got his 34th save.