Phils edge O's, halt skid on Howard's HR

Phils edge O's, halt skid on Howard's HR

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies snapped a nine-game losing streak Thursday afternoon with a 2-1 victory over the Orioles at Citizens Bank Park.

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They can thank Ryan Howard, who hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning off Bud Norris, and a strong performance from the pitching staff for snapping the team's longest skid since an 11-game losing streak in September 1999.

"I mean, nobody comes to the field every day to lose," Howard said. "Everybody comes with a positive attitude. We're trying to go out there and do what we need to do to win and we haven't been able to come through. Today, take it, savor it and try to bring it back and do it again tomorrow."

Sandberg on Phillies' victory

The Orioles took three of four from the Phillies in this week's home-and-home series, but could not complete the sweep. They scored 29 runs in the first three games, which included a 19-3 victory Tuesday, but they managed just six hits in the finale.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Howard pops one: The Phillies have been desperate for offense lately, and Howard provided just enough when he ripped a two-run home run to right field to give the Phillies a one-run lead and hand Norris the loss. It was Howard's 12th home run and just his second since May 23. More >

Fly ball frenzy: After hitting 19 home runs in their previous seven games, the Orioles came out swinging hard again. Through one at-bat, it seemed as if this trend would continue as Manny Machado notched his third leadoff home run of the year. After that, though, fly balls didn't quite go the O's way, as the team lined or flew out to outfielders eight times, many of which appeared of the bat to have the distance to carry over the fence.

Machado's leadoff homer

"Just missing it just a little bit," O's outfielder Chris Parmelee said. "An inch here, an inch there, it's probably a different day and it's a different ballgame. But that's the way it goes. It's baseball." More >

Snider's schneid: After hitting a home run Wednesday, Orioles outfielder Travis Snider struck out in five straight at-bats, including four to start Thursday's game. None came in a more pressing time than in the seventh, when he struck out on three pitches, all sliders from Luis Garcia, stranding men on first and third.

Garcia saves it: Chase Utley could've started a potential inning-ending double play, but he threw a ball into left field with one out in the seventh. It put runners at the corners with one out, but Garcia struck out Machado and Snider swinging on sliders to get out of the inning.

Garcia escapes trouble

QUOTABLE
"It's been tough. Every time I get a chance to come in there and get back on the right foot, I'm pretty happy with that." -- Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, who picked up his 13th save in just his second save opportunity since May 20

Papelbon closes out the 9th

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Phillies avoided being swept in four consecutive series of two or more games for the first time since Sept. 20-29, 1985.

DROP A BUNT?
Teams regularly employ the defensive shift against Howard, but so far, he has not tried to drop a bunt down the third-base line to keep defenses honest.

"That's an individual player thing and it takes some practice and maybe in Ryan's case. a little bit of nerve to try something like that," Sandberg said. "I think the fact that he has not tried it is the biggest thing holding him back from trying. ... I haven't seen him work on that, no. I was glad that he did hit the ball out of the ballpark, though."

WHAT'S NEXT
Orioles: The O's travel north of the border to start a three-game series with the Blue Jays on Friday at 7:07 p.m. ET. Mike Wright is expected to make his sixth start, coming off two lackluster starts to begin June. After allowing three runs in May, Wright has allowed 10 runs in nine innings this month, raising his ERA from 1.40 to 4.13.

Phillies: Phillies ace Cole Hamels got scratched from Friday's 7:05 p.m. ET start against the visiting Cardinals because of a mild right hamstring strain. Triple-A Lehigh Valley right-hander Phillippe Aumont will take his place. He has transitioned from reliever to starter this season, but the key will be command. He has walked 25 and struck out 26 in his past 26 innings over five starts.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. Nick Suss is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.