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04/19/07 1:30 AM ET

Howard hurts leg against Nationals

First baseman pulls up lame running bases, but stays in game

WASHINGTON -- The postgame limp paled in comparison to the pained look on Ryan Howard's face as the injured first baseman tried to block out the agony.

Howard stood, then dragged his 250 pounds to the small medical area outside the clubhouse. That's where athletic trainer Scott Sheridan placed a wrap on Howard's left leg -- around his knee -- as Howard lay back staring at the ceiling. Just outside the entrance, manager Charlie Manuel held a private vigil.

Asked if he was concerned, Manuel nodded yes.

Howard didn't speak to reporters about his condition.

Howard was apparently injured when raced to first base to beat out a double play in the 10th inning of a 5-4, 13-inning loss to Nationals. He stretched hard on the final step, and hunched over for a few moments while he composed himself.

Howard remained in the game, which was a good thing since his departure would have forced Manuel to play a pitcher -- likely Tom Gordon -- at first base because the Phillies were out of bench players. After staying in the game, Howard hobbled worse trying to beat out another double play in the 12th inning.

Indications were that infielder Chris Coste could be summoned from Triple-A Ottawa in case Howard would need a trip to the disabled list.

Losing Howard would be the last thing this 3-10 team needs, though the fact that he stayed in the game has to be looked at as a good sign.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.