- Associated Press - Saturday, June 20, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Pitching with control is a mental hurdle that has dogged Philadelphia’s Phillippe Aumont for his entire career. A new role as a starter didn’t change things.

Aumont struggled in a spot start for injured Philadelphia ace Cole Hamels, and the St. Louis Cardinals set season highs for runs and hits in a 12-4 rout of the Phillies on Friday night.

Aumont (0-1) allowed six runs and five hits in four innings. It was the first career start for Aumont, who entered 1-5 with a 6.13 ERA in 45 big league relief appearances. He switched to a starting role this spring in an attempt to improve his command and had some success in the minors, going 3-4 with a 2.35 ERA in 14 outings, including 10 starts. But against the Cardinals, Aumont walked seven and threw a wild pitch. Of his 104 pitches, 48 were balls.

“It has to be between the ears,” Aumont said.

The tall right-hander was the 11th overall pick by Seattle in the 2007 draft. He was a cornerstone piece of a deal that sent Cliff Lee to the Mariners in 2009. And while Aumont continues to show glimpses of promise, wildness derails any consistency - something he says is mental.

“It’s frustrating to be in the position, fighting it,” he said. “It was just a constant battle with myself. That’s what it’s been my whole career, just me, myself and I out there. Because when I execute my pitches, I get these guys out.”

Ryan Howard homered for Philadelphia, which snapped a nine-game losing streak Thursday. The last-place Phillies sank 23 games under .500.

“Tough, tough game,” Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg said. “Not much out there going right. We fell behind early and with not swinging the bats, it was a tough combination. Right from the get-go, it was a tough game.”

Howard homered for the second straight game, putting the Phillies on the board with a three-run shot in the fifth. A Missouri native whose favorite team growing up was the Cardinals, Howard homered for the 21st time in 62 career games against St. Louis.

Other than that, it was all Cardinals.

Randal Grichuk homered and had three hits, and Kolten Wong and Yadier Molina also went deep for St. Louis.

The Cardinals avoided their second three-game losing streak of the season while breaking out of the offensive funk that followed Tuesday’s news of a federal investigation into whether club officials illegally hacked into the Houston Astros’ player database. St. Louis batted .211 with five runs in the first three games after the story broke. If the investigation had any bearing on the lackluster offense, they certainly put it out of their minds against the Phillies.

St. Louis pounded out 16 hits, including six for extra bases. Jhonny Peralta doubled and had three RBIs, Mark Reynolds had a two-run double and 10 Cardinals got hits.

“It’s good to see these kind of days to give everybody a good shot in the arm, confidence-wise, about our offense,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.

Tyler Lyons (2-0) won his second straight game after going 13 consecutive starts without a win dating to 2013. He earned a victory Saturday over the Royals and cruised to his latest one behind double-digit run support. Lyons allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings with five strikeouts and one walk. He also helped himself with the bat, singling twice with an RBI and scoring three runs.

Two-run homers by Wong and Molina highlighted a four-run second inning that gave the Cardinals a 4-0 lead. In the fourth, Peralta drove in Matt Carpenter and Lyons - both of whom walked - to put St. Louis up by six. And the Cardinals scored five runs on six hits against Justin De Fratus in the fifth.

Aumont and De Fratus combined to throw 162 pitches in six innings, 67 of which were balls.

STARTERS’ STRUGGLES

Phillies starters have gone 24 straight games without a victory, dating to May 23. They are 0-15 with a 5.97 ERA during that stretch.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: Matheny said there’s no timetable for the return of RHP Lance Lynn (forearm), who has been on the DL since June 8.

Phillies: Hamels indicated he will make his next scheduled start Wednesday against the Yankees. Hamels missed Friday’s turn with a strained right hamstring.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: RHP John Lackey (5-4, 3.59 ERA) looks for his first road win of the season Saturday night in the middle game of the series. Lackey is 0-3 with a 6.49 ERA in 11 starts away from home.

Phillies: RHP Aaron Harang (4-8, 3.24) will try to halt a five-game losing streak. Harang, whose last win came on May 15, has a 6.07 ERA during his skid. He is 7-16 with a 4.39 ERA in 28 starts against St. Louis.

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