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Howard, Phillies sneak past Braves

May 14, 2011 - 3:35 AM Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Ryan Howard hit a three-run homer and scored the go-ahead run on Raul Ibanez's single in the eighth inning, as the Phillies snuck by the Braves, 5-4, in the opener of a three-game series.

Shane Victorino had two hits and an RBI for the Phillies, winners in three of their last four.

Phillies starter Cole Hamels was touched for four runs on eight hits, while Cristhian Martinez hurled four perfect innings of relief behind Atlanta's Brandon Beachy, who exited early with a left oblique strain.

Martinez also had a two-run double but did not factor in the decision as a result of Cory Gearrin and Eric O'Flaherty (1-2) failing to hang on to a 4-3 lead.

Trailing with two down in the seventh, Jimmy Rollins doubled off Gearrin to end a string of 14 straight Phillies batters retired. O'Flaherty entered and appeared to catch Victorino looking at strike three, but home plate umpire David Rackley called the 0-2 pitch low, and Victorino took advantage of the prolonged at-bat with a run-scoring single up the middle.

Atlanta threatened to break the 4-4 tie in its turn by loading the bases against J.C. Romero, but Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo came in to strike out Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman, respectively.

Bastardo (2-0) fanned Freeman after falling behind in the count 3-0 and was credited with the win when the Phillies took the lead in the eighth.

Howard started the frame with a single and advanced to second when Joe Mather bobbled the ball in right field. Two batters later, Ibanez dribbled one through the right side of the infield, and Mather's throw home was dropped by Brian McCann, allowing Howard to slide in safely.

Vance Worley shook off a leadoff single in the eighth, and Ryan Madson survived a one-out walk to Chipper Jones in the ninth to post his sixth save of the season.

"It was one thing after another tonight, whether it was Beachy getting injured, the home plate umpire freezing up [on Victorino's at-bat] or our inability to get runs home with less than two outs. It was just one of those games," Jones said.

The Phillies had Beachy's number in their first at-bat, as Howard followed singles from Victorino and Placido Polanco with his ninth home run of the season, a blast to straightaway center.

"For us to come out of the gate like that was big," Howard said. "Guys were able to work [Beachy], get some base hits and I got the home run to put us up early. That was big for us."

Hamels struck out to leave the bases loaded in the frame, then gave up an RBI single to Jones in the bottom half before stranding two runners.

Beachy appeared to injure himself when he went down swinging to end the second, and Martinez was called in from the bullpen for an efficient long relief appearance.

In addition to silencing the Phillies' bats, Martinez recorded his first career hit in the fifth, a two-run double past a diving Polanco at third to tie the game.

Atlanta went ahead in the sixth when Alex Gonzalez singled with two away, moved to third on Mather's ground-rule double and raced home when Carlos Ruiz couldn't handle a wild pitch from Hamels.

Game Notes

Atlanta pitching coach Roger McDowell returned from a two-week suspension Major League Baseball handed down for his alleged homophobic and threatening conduct toward fans before an April 23 game in San Francisco...Ruiz was activated from the disabled list earlier Friday. He had been sidelined since April 27 because of lower back inflammation...Victorino went 2-for-5 and extended his hitting streak to 15 games...Beachy allowed three runs on six hits in his short stint...Gonzalez and Martin Prado each had three of Atlanta's 10 hits...Jones walked three times.

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  • Shane Victorino singled to center scoring Jimmy Rollins with two out. Victorino advanced to second on throw. Runner on second and Placido Polanco due up.

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  • Cristhian Martinez doubled to left scoring Alex Gonzalez and Joe Mather with none out. Runner on second and Martin Prado due up.

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  • Chipper Jones singled to left scoring Martin Prado with none out. On the play, Nate McLouth advances to second. Runners on first and second with Brian McCann due up.

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  • Ryan Howard one-out, three-run Home Run (9) to center scored Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco. Ben Francisco due up.

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