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08/01/10 7:40 PM ET

Howard exits early with sprained left ankle

Slugger could be back in lineup for series opener vs. Fish

WASHINGTON -- Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard left Nationals Park on Sunday crutches, but maybe it isn't as bad as it looked.

Howard sprained his left ankle trying to get back to second base in the first inning in a 6-4 victory in 11 innings over the Washington Nationals. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he doesn't think Howard will be placed on the 15-day disabled list, although Howard said he can't be certain until the swelling subsides.

"It hurts," Howard said. "Right now it's just swollen. It's tight. Other than that, it's not too, too bad."

X-rays were negative.

Howard also had X-rays on his right elbow after being hit by a pitch. They also were negative. He hopes to be back in the lineup in a couple days, and Tuesday's series opener in Florida is a possibility.

"You never know," Howard said. "It's a good thing we have an off-day tomorrow. ... I was able to move it. Standing on it wasn't that bad, but moving it laterally, I could feel it. It was hurting."

Howard tried to get back to second base after Ben Francisco had singled to right field to score Jayson Werth to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. But Howard stepped awkwardly on the base, and dropped to the ground. He turned over and clearly winced in pain.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and assistant athletic trainer Mark Anderson helped Howard off the field. Head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan met Howard at the dugout steps.

Howard is hitting .292 with 23 home runs and 81 RBIs this season. Howard leads the National League in RBIs. He is sixth in homers and eighth in slugging percentage (.528).

"He's pretty big and strong," Manuel said. "He ain't dead by a long shot."

Phillies sticking with Lidge as closer

WASHINGTON -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel bristled Saturday when asked about alternatives to Brad Lidge as the closer.

Ryan Madson could be an option, but when he served as the team's closer the past season and a half, he has a 5.48 ERA (13 earned runs in 21 1/3 innings), and just 14 saves in 20 opportunities. Danys Baez (2-3, 4.95 ERA) has been inconsistent at best. Jose Contreras (5-3, 3.75 ERA, three saves) might be the team's best interal option.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Sunday morning if there were somebody in the Minor Leagues they thought would help their bullpen they would be with the Phillies, although he said that does not mean Scott Mathieson, Antonio Bastardo or Mike Zagurski could not help them this season.

But Lidge bounced back nicely Sunday. He threw a clean inning to get the save in a 6-4 victory over the Nationals in 11 innings.

"I was definitely hoping I would get in there and get another chance," Lidge said.

Stiff wrist scratches Ibanez from lineup

WASHINGTON -- Phillies left fielder Raul Ibanez awkwardly rolled over his left wrist trying to make a catch in the first inning Saturday at Nationals Park.

He remained in the game and hit a game-tying home run in the seventh inning in a 7-5 loss.

But the wrist stiffened up Saturday and felt a little worse Sunday. He indicated the soreness also runs into his left thumb. Sore enough that he had to be scratched from Sunday's lineup in the series finale against the Washington Nationals. X-rays were negative, and Ibanez expects days off Sunday and Monday should have him back in the lineup Tuesday against the Florida Marlins.

"I banged it up pretty good, but it'll be all right," Ibanez said.

Ibanez hit .337 with six doubles, four home runs and 15 RBIs in 25 games in July, easily his most productive month of the season. He also has a 10-game hitting streak, in which he has hit .417 with a .523 on-base percentage and a .750 slugging percentage.

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