Phillies win 10th game in last 11
Ryan Howard is right in the middle of another September streak for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Howard reached a milestone with his two-run homer that led the Philadelphia Phillies to their sixth straight victory, 5-2 over the Washington Nationals on Saturday night.
''It hasn't really hit me right now,'' Howard said of the milestone. ''I'm sure when I look back and reflect on the season, it will hit me. I'm definitely proud of it.''
Howard, though, said he and the team are concerned only with holding off the Braves.
''We're focused on what we have to do,'' he said. ''The only thing you can handle is how we play.''
Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez also homered for the Phillies, who maintained a three-game lead over Atlanta in the NL East.
Helped by Howard and the offense, Kyle Kendrick (10-9) earned his 10th win after a shaky start. He gave up hits to his first two batters but settled after that. In six innings he gave up two runs and six hits. He struck out three and walked one.
''He took us right where we needed to go,'' Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Kendrick.
Kendrick received plenty of support as the Phillies banged out 12 hits. Ibanez had three hits, Wilson Valdez went 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles and an RBI, and Shane Victorino also had two hits and increased his hitting streak to 11 games.
''They squared up on a lot of balls,'' Washington manager Jim Riggleman said. ''They've got everybody out there right now and they're a tough ballclub.''
The Nationals threatened in the eighth, loading the bases with one out but reliever Ryan Madson got Wilson Ramos to line to left and then struck out Willie Harris to retire the side.
''That's been going on quite a bit,'' Riggleman said. ''We've been getting runners on but not getting them in.''
Brad Lidge pitched a perfect ninth for his 23rd save in 28 chances.
Washington right-hander Jordan Zimmerman (0-2), making his fifth start of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last August, allowed six runs on nine hits in three innings. It was the second straight game Zimmerman has lasted just three innings. He has pitched just 20 innings in his five starts.
''His velocity was the best it's been but he didn't have his breaking ball going until the third inning,'' Riggleman said. ''It's a process he's going through.''
Washington jumped on Kendrick early. Danny Espinosa opened the game with a single and scored on Ian Desmond's triple. After hitting the next batter, the right-hander settled down, striking out Adam Dunn and Roger Bernadina before getting a groundout for the final out.
On escaping the inning with just a run, Kendrick said, ''It was kind of nice. I got in a groove after that.''
''I really wanted to be aggressive,'' Kendrick added.
Werth evened the score in the second inning by leading off with a homer to left before Valdez put the Phillies ahead for good with a double to left that scored Ibanez.
Philadelphia added three runs in the third, highlighted by Howard's shot that scored Chase Utley.
''That's pretty impressive, that's special,'' Manuel said of Howard's accomplishment.
Two batters later, Ibanez homered to the opposite field to make it 5-1.
Washington got a run back in the sixth on Michael Morse's two-out single to left that scored Ryan Zimmerman.
NOTES: Ryan Zimmerman doubled in the sixth off Kendrick, making him 9-for-17 lifetime against the Phillies right-hander Philadelphia is 27-8 in its last 35 games versus Washington. Philadelphia is 31-11 in its last 42 home games. Howard's homer was his 252nd with Phillies, passing Pat Burrell for third place on the club's all-time list.