PHILADELPHIA – Roy Halladay overcame a shaky start and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the St. Louis Cardinals 11-6 Saturday night in the opener of their National League division series.

Ryan Howard shook off his season-ending strikeout last October in the championship series to hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in a five-run sixth inning, sending Citizens Bank Park into a frenzy.

“I left last year in the past,” Howard said. “You can’t let what happened last year affect this year. It’s a fresh start.”

Halladay, who retired his last 21 batters, allowed three runs and three hits, striking out eight in eight innings. He didn’t allow a runner after Skip Schumaker led off the second with a single.

“That’s why he’s the best in the game,” Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols said. “We wanted to keep adding on it, but we just never put that inning together again.”

Game 2 is tonight, with Cliff Lee pitching for Philadelphia against Chris Carpenter, who is starting on three days’ rest.

Raul Ibanez hit a two-run shot off Kyle Lohse to cap the Phillies’ burst in the sixth, and Shane Victorino had three hits and two RBI.

Last year, in his first career playoff start, Halladay threw the second no-hitter in postseason history in Philadelphia’s 4-0 victory over Cincinnati.

His bid for an encore in the first round didn’t last one batter, and Lance Berkman hit the first three-run homer off Halladay in three years to put the wild-card Cardinals up 3-0 in the first.

But the offense bailed out Halladay.

“I couldn’t think of a worse start and putting your team in a hole like that,” Halladay said. “But you get to this point, you’re not going to pack it in.”

Lohse retired the first 10 batters before Chase Utley hit a double off the right-field fence in the fourth. Lohse, who was 14-8 this season, ran out of gas in the sixth.

Down 3-1, Jimmy Rollins singled to start the inning. After Utley struck out, Hunter Pence grounded a single up the middle. That brought up Howard, who heard a lot of criticism for taking that called third strike last year in the NLCS with the tying run on second base to end the Phillies’ season against San Francisco.

Howard worked a full count before sending a drive into the second deck in right-center to give the Phillies a 4-3 lead.

The towel-waving crowd went wild, and Howard came out for a curtain call.

“In that situation, I knew he wasn’t really going to throw a fastball, so I just sat on the change-up,” Howard said.

BREWERS 4, DIAMONDBACKS 1: Yovani Gallardo outpitched Arizona ace Ian Kennedy as Milwaukee won the division series opener at home.

Prince Fielder chased Kennedy with a two-out, two-run homer in the seventh inning. Gallardo, meanwhile, gave up one run (Ryan Roberts’ homer) and four hits over eight innings and matched a postseason franchise record with nine strike-outs.


RANGERS 8, RAYS 6: Mike Napoli had a tying two-run single before Tampa Bay starter James Shields threw two wild pitches to the same batter, and Texas went on to a victory over visiting Tampa Bay in Game 2 of their division series.

After Napoli’s two-run single tied it at 3, one of the wild pitches by Shields was a strikeout pitch that sent home the tie-breaking run in a five-run outburst in the fourth inning that put Texas ahead to stay and helped tie the series, 1-1.

Ian Kinsler added a two-run double and Mitch Moreland a solo homer for Texas.

YANKEES 9, TIGERS 3: Robinson Cano hit a grand slam and drove in six runs, rookie Ivan Nova pitched brilliantly into the ninth inning in an unusual relief appearance and New York shook off a 23-hour rain delay to beat visiting Detroit in their suspended playoff opener.

A day after rain wiped out aces Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia after only 1 1/2 innings, the game resumed in the bottom of the second.

Cano barely missed a homer on his tie-breaking double in the fifth and New York broke it open with a six-run sixth against Doug Fister. Brett Gardner had a two-run single with two outs to make it 4-1 and moments later, Cano connected off Al Alburquerque for his fourth grand slam since Aug. 11.