PHI@STL: Howard goes yard to the opposite field

ST. LOUIS -- Ryan Howard insists there is nothing special about his routine when he arrives back home in St. Louis.

"Just relax, talk to family and friends and just, you know, grab a little grub and chill," Howard said with a smile. "Keeping it as simple as possible."

Whatever he's done has worked.

Howard went 2-for-4 at Busch Stadium in the Phillies' 4-1 win over the Cardinals on Thursday, continuing the trend of tormenting his hometown team.

In 27 games at Busch Stadium III since 2006, Howard has hit .374 with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs. Thursday marked the St. Louis native's first appearance at Busch Stadium since 2011 as he missed the trip each of the past two seasons while battling injuries.

"This is where it all started for me," Howard said. "So I guess it's always going to be a little bit different feel for a guy when he's going back and he's playing in front of his hometown."

Howard's recent stretch extends beyond just St. Louis. As the Phillies reached their first four-game winning streak since last June with Thursday's win, Howard's two-run home run in the sixth gave him three homers and nine RBIs during the first four games of the Phillies' current seven-game road trip.

"He's on a good roll for us," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's played big for us in the last four wins putting a crooked number up there and swinging a good bat."

Home or away, Howard has been a bully against the Cardinals, hitting safety in 43 of 51 career games against them.

Brignac sprains ankle on play at first, goes on DL

PHI@STL: Brignac injures ankle sliding into first

ST. LOUIS -- Reid Brignac writhed in pain on the infield dirt beyond first base, grabbing his left ankle and fearing the worst as it went numb in the fifth inning Thursday.

But X-rays on Brignac's ankle came back negative and the third baseman was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain, and he was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday. Third baseman Cody Asche was activated from the disabled list.

Brignac's leadoff screamer down the first-base line was stopped by Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams on a diving play and he raced pitcher Shelby Miller to the bag.

There, Brignac contorted his ankle when he and Miller reached the base at the same time and both slid feet-first. Brignac was out.

"Not as bad as the play looked when it first happened with the collision and a couple of ankles possibly spraining down there," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "It had a chance to be really ugly for two different guys."

"I just kind of reacted," Brignac said. "He started to slide and I just slid too for whatever reason, just trying to get to the bag before he did. Unfortunately my ankle got caught on the bag as my body flew over."

"I don't think I would have beaten him if I didn't slide," Miller added. "I don't think I caused the play; I think he hit the bag wrong. But hopefully he's OK and is back out there tomorrow."

The Phillies replaced Brignac in the field in the bottom of the fifth with Cesar Hernandez.

Nieves sits out, Rupp called up for reinforcement

PHI@ATL: Nieves exits game with injury after double

ST. LOUIS -- Phillies backup catcher Wil Nieves was feeling better Thursday, one day after he felt a pop in his right quadriceps while running to second base on a one-out double in the ninth inning of a 10-5 win over Atlanta.

That didn't keep the team from calling in a reinforcement to St. Louis. The Phillies on Thursday recalled catcher Cameron Rupp from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, optioning outfielder Aaron Altherr to Double-A Reading to make room on the roster.

Rupp, ranked as the Phillies' No. 18 prospect, was hitting .167 with Lehigh Valley. In four games with the Phillies last season the 25-year-old catcher hit .308 (4-for-13).

"It's always fun to be back here," Rupp said. "It's been an exciting last 12 hours or so."

Rupp will provide depth behind Nieves, who said Wednesday in Atlanta that he hoped to the avoid a trip to the disabled list. Nieves, who has hit .259 in 14 games this season, appears to be on track to meet that goal.

"Wil's feeling very good, so it seems like it was a cramp that he had," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He got really good fluids today and he's feeling much better."

The Phillies will need to make room on the roster Friday to activate third baseman Cody Asche from the disabled list. Asche is already with the team in St. Louis.

Asche with team, but not yet activated

CIN@PHI: Asche drills three-run homer, pads late lead

ST. LOUIS -- Cody Asche arrived back home Thursday morning, and his mother waited at the St. Louis airport to pick him up.

His return to the Phillies active roster and the Majors will have to wait another day. Asche, who has been sidelined since May 22 with a strained left hamstring, was at Busch Stadium on Thursday as the Phillies begin a four-game series with the Cardinals, but the team has yet to activate him.

The Phillies recalled catcher Cameron Rupp with backup Wil Nieves sidelined after coming up lame while running to second base on a double Wednesday. Rupp will provide the team depth in the series-opener before it makes room on the roster for Asche prior to Friday's game.

"I anticipate that Cody will be activated tomorrow," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.

Asche, who was born in St. Charles, Mo., and grew up 25 minutes west of Busch Stadium, hit .258 with four home runs in 40 games as the Phillies' starting third baseman before straining his hamstring.

He was sent to Class A Lakewood for three games last Friday, where he went 3-for-7 with two homers. He appeared in two games at Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Monday and Tuesday, going 5-for-6 with a homer before being sent to St. Louis to join the Phillies on their road trip.

Asche, who was promoted last season as a rookie following the Phillies' trip to St. Louis, said returning from his injury now was a nice coincidence. He left 12 tickets for friends and family Thursday.

"The main thing is just work getting healthy," Asche said. "When you're down there for that long of a time, you really just never want to go back again, so you want to be healthy and you don't want to rush anything. Obviously you want to play in the town you grew up in, but most importantly, I just wanted to be healthy."

Worth noting

Cliff Lee had a long-toss session Thursday, two days after throwing 20 fastballs in a bullpen session. Lee is scheduled to throw in a second bullpen session Friday. He has been on the disabled list since May 19 with a strained left elbow.

Ben Revere was out of the Phillies starting lineup for a third straight day Thursday. Revere is dealing with a left knee issue after he ran into the wall in Atlanta. The injury isn't considered serious, and Revere pinch-hit Wednesday.

• Phillies third-round pick Aaron Brown, whom the team signed earlier this week, was given a $750,000 bonus. The slot value for his pick (81) was set at $682,500.