PHILADELPHIA -- Roy Halladay is starting to feel in sync again. So are the Phillies.
It was the second straight outstanding outing for Halladay (6-6), who missed 42 games while on the disabled list with a strained lat. He returned July 17 and struggled in his first three starts back, going 0-1 with a 5.82 ERA. He threw seven innings in a 3-0 victory over Arizona on Saturday.
The right-hander matched a season low by allowing just two hits, while striking out eight and walking none to help Philadelphia win its fourth game in the last six.
"I feel more in sync now than I did early on," Halladay said. "I had a hard time, I just didn't feel together. I didn't feel like everything was kind of clicking. More so the last two starts, I've felt like that's been better."
He didn't allow a hit after Jon Jay's two-out single in the third, retiring 16 of his final 17 batters. The only hitter to reach base was Yadier Molina, who got to first after being hit on the left elbow leading off the fifth.
"For me, it's mechanics," Halladay said. "It's getting my arm in the right position. I feel like I wasn't doing that and everything kind of wasn't tied together. I didn't feel like my lower half was tied together with my upper half.
"When you do that it kind of feels like you're fighting yourself a little bit. So I definitely feel like it's been tied together a little better."
The Cardinals threatened in the ninth off Jonathan Papelbon, who pitched a scoreless inning for his 25th save in 28 chances. Papelbon gave up a one-out double to Allen Craig and a two-out single to Carlos Beltran to put runners on first and third. But Papelbon got Beltran trying to steal second, throwing ahead of the runner to easily get Beltran after he left first base too early.
"I got a little anxious," Beltran said. "There's no guarantee we would win the game, but you can't end a game like that."
Beltran homered for the Cardinals, who have lost three of four.
Jimmy Rollins led off the eighth with a single to left off reliever Barret Browning (0-1), went to second on the left-hander's balk and to third on Juan Pierre's sacrifice bunt before scoring on Utley's towering homer to right-center that gave Philadelphia a 3-1 lead.
"You're not trying to do too much, you're trying to get that guy in any way you can," Utley said. "That one felt pretty good. I squared that one up decently."
Utley credited Halladay for keeping the Phillies in a position for the victory.
"He was mixing his pitches, throwing strikes with all his pitches," Utley said. "The Cardinals have a very good offensive team. For him to pitch like that against those guys, it tells you something."
The loss ruined another solid effort by Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse.
The right-hander has been stellar all season and was 6-0 in his last nine starts entering Friday. He had given up two earned runs or less in eight of the nine outings with a 2.52 ERA in those starts.
He allowed one run and four hits while setting a season high with seven strikeouts in seven innings. Lohse, who walked two, allowed only three batters to reach second base.
"Everything was working for him," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He pitched seven solid innings. You couldn't ask for more."
Said Lohse, "My change was real good. They stacked their lineup with left-handers. I knew I had to get it going and I did. It's a tough loss but we'll get over it."
Lohse was pinch hit for with two outs in the eighth, but Halladay struck out Matt Carpenter.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was glad to see Lohse leave the game.
"He did the same thing Roy did, he was very good," Manuel said. "When he left the game, I was sitting there thinking, 'That's good.'"
Beltran's leadoff homer to right in the second gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.
The Phillies tied the score in the bottom of the inning. Ryan Howard opened it with a double to right and scored on Domonic Brown's single that glanced off the glove of diving second baseman Daniel Descalso and into short right field.
The Phillies inducted former C Mike Lieberthal into the club's Wall of Fame in a pregame ceremony that was attended by Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton, among other Phillies greats. ... St. Louis called up INF Ryan Jackson from Triple-A Memphis before the game. ... Phillies minor leaguer Gabriel Bermudez was suspended 50 games for a violation of Major League Baseball's drug policy. Bermudez was playing on the club's Venezuelan Summer League team. ... The three-game series continues Saturday night with Philadelphia LHP Cliff Lee (2-6, 3.78) scheduled to face Cardinals RHP Jake Westbrook (11-8, 3.76).