06/18/06 7:07 PM ET
Howard's homer snaps Phils' slide
Slugger belts three-run shot; Madson turns in solid effort
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
"That felt great," said Madson (7-4), who team is 9-2 in his 11 starts. "They always score runs for me."Howard gets the credit for the big blow, but Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley deserve recognition for setting up the rally. Rollins laced a one-out single and stole second, while Utley's single came after Shane Victorino popped to third for the second out. Bobby Abreu walked in front of Howard's team-leading 23rd homer of the season. Though the drive fell just over the wall in the left-field corner, it might as well have gone 500 feet. "Big, just big," Victorino said. "We needed it." The Phillies also needed closer Tom Gordon for a five-out save -- his 19th -- when Arthur Rhodes struggled in the eighth. It wasn't that big a deal, considering Gordon hadn't pitched since June 10. "This was definitely a game we had to have," said Gordon, who wasn't surprised with the extended outing. "Usually, when things are going bad, they're going bad. Every little aspect of the game, we hadn't been playing well. It's been nothing you could put your hand on." Manuel's solution through this stretch of sloppy play has been to stay positive. He knows no other way. "Stay tough," he said. "As long as you bust your [behind] and play hard, you can overplay some of your mistakes. When you're struggling, you have two ways to go. You can lay there and die or bounce up and play right." With six games against the Yankees and Red Sox this week, the Phillies won't get much rest, and they know they still trail the Mets by 9 1/2 games in the National League East. "There's no panic button," Utley said. "We had a rough week, but next week could be our week."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.