5/18/2013 4:47 P.M. ET
After peak at plate, Howard navigating valley
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips covered his face with his glove as he met Ryan Howard at first base in the eighth inning Friday.
Howard had just reached on an infield, check-swing single, and Phillips simply could not believe it.
"For real?" Phillips asked Howard.
"I've got to take that," Howard replied.
Cut Howard some slack. He was in a 2-for-29 slump before that hit helped the Phillies score two runs in a 5-3 victory at Citizens Bank Park. Howard had been hitting .322 (19-for-59) with five doubles, five home runs and 15 RBIs in his previous 17 games.
"There's been a few times I haven't felt completely comfortable at the dish," Howard said. "Just right now it's kind of getting my pitches and fouling them off. It's kind of the tough thing that leads to the deeper counts. Now it's just working on not fouling off those pitches and put them in play."
Young's rising walk total reflects focus at plate
PHILADELPHIA -- Michael Young played a critical role in the Phillies' 5-3 victory Friday against the Reds.
He hit a two-out triple to score Cliff Lee in the fifth inning to give the Phillies a three-run lead. He then turned a 10-pitch at-bat in the eighth inning into his third walk of the game, which sparked a two-run rally.
Young has walked 22 times this season, which is tied for seventh in the National League. His .399 on-base percentage is eighth.
Young walked just 33 times last season. He walked a career-high 58 times in 2005.
"I've made an effort to really make sure I lock into the strike zone," Young said. "Right now the walks are up. Last year they were probably really low for me, too. I don't necessarily think last year was indicative of how much I've walked. I've never really walked a ton of times in my career, but the goal is still the same: get a good pitch to hit and hit it as hard as I possibly can. But at the same time, if there's something outside the strike zone, I don't want to bite on it."
Young, who has grounded into 10 double plays to tie for the league lead with St. Louis' Matt Holliday, has shown a little more power recently, too. He had just four extra-base hits in his first 95 at-bats through May 1, but has five in his last 41.
• Phillies left-hander John Lannan, who is on the disabled list with a strained tendon in his left knee, threw a successful bullpen session Saturday in Clearwater, Fla. He will throw another one Monday. If he continues to progress, he could face hitters during live batting practice before the end of the month.
• Right-hander Carlos Zambrano, whom the Phillies signed to a Minor League contract Wednesday, threw two innings in an extended spring game Saturday in Clearwater. He allowed one hit and struck out five, throwing 44 pitches. He is expected to pitch in a second extended game Thursday.
• John Mayberry Jr. started for the fourth consecutive game in center field Saturday. He is hitting .500 (6-for-12) in his last three games. It is the longest Ben Revere has gone without starting in a game this season. Interestingly, Revere is hitting .357 (10-for-28) with a .438 on-base percentage in his last 13 games.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.