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Howard sparks Philadelphia Phillies' extra-innings win over Atlanta Braves

By Stan Awtrey, The Sports Xchange

ATLANTA -- The Philadelphia Phillies finally produced an opportune run and it came courtesy of a familiar face.

First baseman Ryan Howard, a longtime nemesis of the Atlanta Braves, hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning to break a scoreless tie. The run propelled the Phillies to a 4-0 win over the Braves on Sunday, snapping their six-game losing streak.

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With the bases loaded and no one out, Howard hit the first pitch from reliever Dana Eveland far enough into right field to score center fielder Odubel Herrera with the go-ahead run.

"Howie comes up with the big sacrifice fly," Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin said. "And I think he hit it a little off the end of the bat."

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The Phillies had loaded the bases against reliever Nick Masset, who gave up singles to Herrera and second baseman Cesar Hernandez and a walk to third baseman Maikel Franco.

The Braves brought in the left-handed Eveland to face Howard, who was 0-for-9 in the series at that point. But Howard responded with a sacrifice fly for his 38th RBI of the season and the 141st of his career against the Braves. Howard had been 0-for-4 with two strikeouts until his decisive fly.

Catcher Carlos Ruiz drove home two more runs with a double off reliever Jake Brigham, who also surrendered a run-scoring single to shortstop Freddy Galvis.

"Those guys did a good job. I just wish they had done it a littler earlier for Cole (Hamels)," Mackanin said.

The winning pitcher was Luis Garcia (3-3), who pitched a scoreless inning of relief. Jonathan Papelbon pitched a scoreless ninth inning in a non-save situation.

The losing pitcher was Masset (3-3).

After the game Masset and Eveland were designated for assignment. The Braves recalled relievers Arodys Vizcaino and David Carpenter from Triple-A Gwinnett.

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The game evolved into a pitching duel between Philadelphia's Cole Hamels and Atlanta's Shelby Miller, although neither figured in the decision.

Miller pitched 6 1/3 innings and did not allow a run. He gave up seven hits, walked two and struck out eight. But he retired the side in order only twice and threw 106 pitches. It was his ninth straight start without picking up a win.

"He wasn't as sharp as we've seen him, but he competed," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He gave us every opportunity to win against a guy on the other side that's pretty darned good."

Hamels pitched seven scoreless innings. He allowed six hits and struck out six, with one hit batsman. But without any run support, Hamels failed to end his winless streak, which extends to May 23.

"He gave us the innings we needed," Mackanin said. "Today we faced a really good pitcher. I lamented that I wished Cole had matched up with one of their lesser pitchers. But he's OK with it. He's a true professional."

Each team loaded the bases in the first inning but could not score. Left fielder Cody Asche struck out to end the threat for the Phillies and third baseman Pedro Ciriaco field to center field to end the chances for Atlanta.

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Atlanta's Luis Avilan got the final two outs in the seventh, Jim Johnson worked a scoreless eighth and Jason Grilli struck out the side in the ninth.

Philadelphia's Ken Giles struck out the side in the eighth inning. Luis Garcia allowed runners on the corner in the ninth, but struck out pinch hitter Juan Uribe to end the inning.

"The bottom of the ninth was the key," Gonzalez said. "We had the right guys at the plate."

The win was the second for the club since Mackanin took over as manager when Ryne Sandberg unexpectedly resigned on June 26.

"I want to win games because it's more fun," Mackanin said. "But I'm here to make sure we're doing things the right way."

NOTES: The Phillies traded minor leaguer pitchers Chris Oliver and Josh Taylor, along with their No. 9 international slot, to Arizona in exchange for the No. 1 international slot. ... Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez gave 3B Pedro Ciriaco his first start since June 28. Ciriaco is batting .321 and has hit safety in six of the last games in which he has come to the plate. ... The Phillies started Carlos Ruiz at catcher for the first time in the series. Ruiz entered the game with 10 career home runs against Atlanta. ... Atlanta starts a seven-game road trip with the first of three games against Milwaukee on Monday. The Braves will send rookie RHP Matt Wisler (2-1, 2.60 ERA) against veteran RHP Kyle Lohse (5-9, 6.24 ERA). Philadelphia continues its 10-game road trip with four games in Los Angeles. The first game will match Phillies RHP Sean O'Sullivan (1-6, 5.76 ERA) against RHP Carlos Frias (5-5, 4.39 ERA).

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