PHILADELPHIA -- In the 82nd game of the season, the start of their second half, Aaron Rowand's RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Phillies a 6-5 win over the Padres.

It improved their record to 38-44.

Ryan Howard led off the ninth with a single to right field and advanced to second on Pat Burrell's groundout. Rowand then drove sidearmer Cla Meredith's 3-2 pitch down the right-field line, and Howard jogged home with the winning run.

"Right now, we have a whole new outlook on everything," Howard said. "Everything in the first half is behind us."

Prior to coming up with the game-winning hit, Rowand was hitless in his last nine trips and 6 for his last 39.

"It was a big hit," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He's been really scuffling. He's been overtrying. That was a real good at-bat, especially against a sidearm guy."

"I was trying to go out and get good wood on the ball," Rowand said. "On the one I hit, he made a mistake and left it up."

Meredith knew he didn't get the last one where he wanted it.

"I tried to throw him a sinker away -- and I don't know how much it sank," the Padres reliever said.

The winning run was the only one the Phillies managed outside of their five-run outburst in the fourth.

Trailing, 2-0, in the fourth, Chase Utley, Bobby Abreu, Howard and Burrell opened the inning with four consecutive hits to tie the game. The Phils scored the go-ahead run when Rowand reached on a fielding error by shortsop Khalil Greene.

Carlos Ruiz provided what would be much-needed insurance two batters later with his first Major League home run, a two-run shot, for a 5-2 lead. It came on the day of his callup for his second big-league stint.

Ruiz was hitting just .143 in his first go-around with the Phillies, but said after the game that he was much more comfortable this time.

And now he has a baseball in his locker to show for it.


"Right now, we have a whole new outlook on everything. Everything in the first half is behind us."
-- Ryan Howard

"I'm very excited because it's my first home run," Ruiz said. "But it's more important to win."

The Phils bullpen, which threw all nine innings on Sunday in Toronto, was forced to go seven more. Not by fault of the starter, or the lack of a starter as was the case Sunday, but by the weather.

A one-hour rain delay derailed rookie lefty Cole Hamels just two innings into his outing. While Padres starter Clay Hensley was able to go 4 1/3 more innings, the Phillies took no chances with the injury-prone 22-year-old.

"If the field hadn't gotten so wet, we probably would have sent him back out," Manuel said. "That killed a lot of time."

"I seriously was [upset]," Hamels said. "That's one thing you can't control."

So five relievers teamed up for the next seven innings, watching the Phillies take the lead and then letting it go.

All-Star closer Tom Gordon got the win, despite relinquishing a save, striking out three in his 1 2/3 innings.

The Padres got back in it in the seventh thanks to a walk and three singles to pull within one. The visitors tied the game off Gordon in the eighth on a Josh Barfield RBI single.

Gordon got the job done in the ninth, though, bailing out Utley after an error, getting Greene to ground out and Vinny Castilla to fly out with two Padres aboard.

Then it was time to shine for Rowand, who hopes this win starts the Phillies on the run that they desparately need with a 10 1/2-game deficit in the National League East and seven teams to pass in the NL Wild Card race.

"It's a big pick-me-up," he said. "We can use it to build off of and have a good feeling when we get to the clubhouse [on Wednesday]."