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Philadelphia at Atlanta

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Philadelphia (66-49) «010003000470
Atlanta (61-56)000100000140

Howard's two HRs, four RBI carry Phils past Braves

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- Ryan Howard likes what he has seen so far from J.A. Happ.

"He's not a rookie any more," Howard said. "He's proven himself to be a very poised pitcher."

Howard homered twice and drove in four runs to back Happ's strong start, and Brad Lidge earned an easy save as the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves 4-1 on Sunday night.

Philadelphia, which has won five of six, dropped the third-place Braves six games back in the National League East and left Atlanta in a fourth-place tie with Chicago in the NL wild-card race.

  Phils righty Myers (eye) cleared to practice

After his solo shot made it 1-0 in the second, Howard put the Phillies up 4-1 with his 30th home run in the sixth off Javier Vazquez (10-8).

"I'm just trying to see the ball," said Howard, who has driven in a run for seven consecutive games, with 12 RBI over that span. "I got some good swings tonight and fortunately for us, they got on the other side of the fence."

Howard's multihomer game was his third this season and the 20th of his career, tying the slugger for third place on Philadelphia's career list with Dick Allen.

The Braves had won the last seven starts made by Vazquez, who allowed six hits, four runs and two walks in seven innings with seven strikeouts. Howard proved too tough, particularly when Vazquez left a change-up too high in the strike zone in the sixth to the All-Star first baseman.

"He's got 30 home runs for a reason," Vazquez said. "He's a powerful guy and you've got to be careful with him."

The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 37 minutes by rain. When it finally got going, Happ and Vazquez were in control.

Happ (9-2) surrendered three hits, including Matt Diaz's seventh home run in the fourth. The 26-year-old left-hander gave up one run, six walks and struck out three in 7 2/3 innings. He lowered his ERA to 2.66 and become a solid member of the Phillies' rotation.

Striking out Yunel Escobar to end the first with runners on second and third boosted Happ's confidence.

"I was lucky to get out of the first inning," Happ said. "You get behind in the first, you know you have to battle all the way. I was really anxious during that inning."

Atlanta, which had only two runners in scoring position after the first, left the bases loaded in the sixth when Happ got Ryan Church to foul out.

"He's got that late life on the fastball that makes that fastball up look good," Diaz said of Happ. "The minute you start cheating on that late life on that fastball, it makes his off-speed pitches look good."

Ryan Madson relieved Happ for the final out of the eighth. One night after Lidge blew a save for the eighth time this season, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel brought in lefty Scott Eyre to begin the ninth with left-handed hitters coming up.

Eyre was pulled after walking pinch-hitter Greg Norton with two outs for Lidge, who earned his 23rd save on Omar Infante's pop-up.

The Phillies improved to 37-20 on the road, best in the majors. They are 11-5 in their past 16 games away from Citizens Bank Park.

"In the second week of August, you're about to get in the homestretch, and you need to be able to handle your division games," said Howard, whose team improved to 20-7 this season when he home runs. "We left [Saturday's loss] in the past."

Notes

  • Braves 2B Martin Prado walked as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. He was scratched from the lineup because he still felt dizzy from heat-related problems that forced him to leave Atlanta's 4-3 victory Saturday.
  • LF Garret Anderson, who went 0 for 3, batted second in the order for the first time in 85 games with Atlanta.
  • Phillies RHP Brett Myers has been cleared by an ophthalmologist for a long-toss session on Monday, three days after injuring his eye.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Ryan Howard finishes the game 3 for 3 at the plate, including home runs No. 29 and 30.  (AP)
Ryan Howard finishes the game 3 for 3 at the plate, including home runs No. 29 and 30. (AP)

Players of the Game
Philadelphia

R. Howard
AB 3
R 2
H 3
HR 2
RBI 4
Atlanta

M. Diaz
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
 
Philadelphia Phillies
Jimmy Rollins, SS4110001 .243
Shane Victorino, CF4120010 .313
Chase Utley, 2B3000123 .294
Ryan Howard, 1B3234100 .269
Jayson Werth, RF4000023 .260
Raul Ibanez, LF4000020 .292
Pedro Feliz, 3B4010010 .285
Carlos Ruiz, C4000001 .225
J.A. Happ, P2000101 .094
    Ryan Madson, P0000000 .000
    Scott Eyre, P0000000 .000
    Brad Lidge, P0000000 .000
Totals3247438  
Batting
2B - Shane Victorino (30, Vazquez)
HR - Ryan Howard 2 (30, Vazquez, Vazquez)
RBI - Ryan Howard 4 (91)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Feliz-Utley-Howard, Howard-Rollins
Philadelphia Phillies
J.A. Happ (W,9-2) 7.2311631 2.66
Ryan Madson (H,20) 0.1100010 2.95
Scott Eyre (H,12) 0.2000100 1.71
Brad Lidge (S,23) 0.1000000 7.21
HBP - G. Anderson (by J.A. Happ)
Pitches-Strikes - J.A. Happ 117-62, Ryan Madson 8-5, Scott Eyre 13-7, Brad Lidge 3-2
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - J.A. Happ 10-8, Scott Eyre 1-1
Batters Faced - J.A. Happ 31, Ryan Madson 2, Scott Eyre 3, Brad Lidge 1
Atlanta Braves
Omar Infante, 2B3000202 .337
Garret Anderson, LF3000003 .280
Chipper Jones, 3B4000012 .297
Brian McCann, C3010100 .284
Yunel Escobar, SS4010023 .298
Matt Diaz, RF4121011 .293
Adam LaRoche, 1B3000100 .262
Ryan Church, CF3000103 .274
Javier Vazquez, P2000001 .149
   a- Martin Prado, PH0000100 .310
    Eric O'Flaherty, P0000000 .000
    Kris Medlen, P0000000 .000
   b- Greg Norton, PH0000100 .138
Totals2914174  
a-walked for Vazquez in the 7th
b-walked for Medlen in the 9th
Batting
2B - Brian McCann (30, Happ)
HR - Matt Diaz (7, Happ)
RBI - Matt Diaz (32)
2-OUT RBI - Matt Diaz (14)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Escobar, Infante-Escobar
Atlanta Braves
Javier Vazquez (L,10-8) 7644272 2.99
Eric O'Flaherty 1100100 3.38
Kris Medlen 1000010 4.40
Pitches-Strikes - Javier Vazquez 107-69, Eric O'Flaherty 14-7, Kris Medlen 11-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Javier Vazquez 8-5, Kris Medlen 1-1
Batters Faced - Javier Vazquez 28, Eric O'Flaherty 4, Kris Medlen 3
Game Information
Attendance - 25215
Game Time - 2:45
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Hunter Wendelstedt, First Base - Dana DeMuth, Second Base - Doug Eddings, Third Base - Brian Knight