Gary Matthews has been on the Philadelphia Phillies' bench for the last week but returned yesterday with a bang.

In his first start since Sept. 10, Matthews went three for four with a homer and two singles and drove in two runs to support the seven-hit pitching of John Denny and Al Holland and help the host Phillies defeat the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-1.

The triumph, Philadelphia's 10th in 14 games against the Cardinals this season, put the Phillies in a tie for the NL East lead with Pittsburgh. The loss dropped St. Louis 4 1/2 games out of first and one game under .500.

Matthews, who played in all 162 games for the Phillies last season and led the team with 17 game-winning RBI, has been caught in the Phillies' surplus of outfielders this year but he said he doesn't want to complain about his inactive status.

"They (Manager Paul Owens and the coaches) will be able to have an answer in there as to why I'm not playing," Matthews said. "It's their decision and they make the lineups. But we're winning with the lineup they've been putting out there every day, so it's hard to complain."

Matthews led off the second inning with his 10th home run of the season. His RBI single in the two-run eighth wrapped up the game.

Denny (16-6) allowed seven hits and struck out five in eight innings, lowering his ERA to 2.30, third in the league. Holland got his 20th save.