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09/02/09 8:02 PM ET

Phillies out to improve in scoring chances

Howard lauded by skipper for two-strike hit vs. Giants

PHILADELPHIA -- It looked like Ryan Howard tried to do nothing more than make contact Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies had a runner on third with one out in the fourth inning, which has been the kiss of death lately for them. They have hit a Major League-worst .211 with runners in scoring position since July 26, and it seemed even worse with a runner on third with less than two outs. But Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez threw Howard a 3-2 slider and Howard stayed on the ball.

"He didn't try to do a whole lot with it," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said before Wednesday's game against the Giants. "He just tried to put the ball in play. He flipped it and put it in play. He caught the ball. It was good hitting. It was good two-strike hitting."

Manuel obviously would like to see more of that in the final weeks of the regular season.

"They know," Manuel said. "They definitely know when they don't knock somebody in from third. I played 20 years. I knew every time I didn't get somebody in from third. And if they don't know, please come and see me."

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