Ryan Howard stayed back on Rafael Soriano's low slider and deposited it deep to center, lifting the Phils to a tough 3-2 win at Turner Field.
Howard's 28th homer of the season was his second in as many games, as the slugging All-Star appears to be settling into his sweet-swinging, second-half surge. Braves' skipper Bobby Cox will be rightfully second guessed this morning, swapping left-hander Mike Gonzalez for his right-handed closer to start the ninth; Howard has a .561 OPS against lefties compared to a 1.066 off righties, so given a chance to go left-left, you do it. Despite a long home run drought that ended Thursday, Howard has been seeing the ball very well lately.
Howard's blast accounted for one of several highlights on a night of clutch hitting, pitching and defense. Joe Blanton provided another bullish start, allowing two runs, one earned, on seven hits over seven innings, benefiting from a defensive clinic put on by Gold Glove center fielder Shane Victorino, robbing Brian McCann on a leaping grab at the wall on a ball crushed 400 feet to keep the score knotted 2-2 in the fifth. The Phils got the bulk of their runs on Chase Utley's two-run homer off sure-handed starter Jair Jurrjens. And with the tying run on second and winning run on first in the ninth, Brad Lidge lived on the edge for his 22nd save. The Phils have won four straight.
Myers rehabs tonight: A little over two months removed from hip surgery, Brett Myers goes back on the mound tonight in Clearwater, where he is expected to pitch at least one inning.