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Burell, Howard Come Up Big

Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard played big roles in last night's 7-5 victory over the Astros.

Pat Burrell has been in a slump.

So has Ryan Howard.

But both came up big in last night's 7-5 victory over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Burrell had hit just .143 with a home run and two RBIs in his previous 15 games. He had started chasing breaking balls outside the strike zone again, and had watched his average plummet from .330 on May 4 to .271. But then he hit a pinch-hit, go-ahead solo home run in the eighth inning.

Howard went 3 for 5 with a double, home run and two RBIs last night to move over .200 for the first time since April 21 in Colorado. He is 6 for 10 with two doubles, three home runs, and six RBIs in his last two games. He is hitting .207. And since Howard reached a season-low .163 on May 7, he is hitting .304 (17 for 56) with 3 doubles, 1 triple, 7 home runs and 15 RBIs in 14 games. He also has had his first back-to-back multihit games since Aug. 25-28, when he had more than one hit in four consecutive games.

It looks like Howard's slump is coming to an end, or has ended. Time will tell with that.

Burrell? Charlie Manuel said he wasn't sure if Burrell would start tonight. He had thought about giving him two days off before he homered. After he homered, he said he would have to sleep on it.


It's ... alive!

Chase Utley has his bat back. The batting practice bat he had used for more than a year before it broke May 9 in San Francisco has been repaired, and Utley happily hit with it before last night's game. Now I'm not saying Utley is superstitious, but he has held onto the bat so Phillies equipment manager Dan O'Rourke could fix the thing in Houston.


Jayson Werth left last night's game with a strained right oblique. He said he felt a pull swinging at a pitch in the eighth inning.

He'll know more today.