The Phillies had to wait more than an hour to completely blow their four-run lead in the top of the seventh inning yesterday at Citizens Bank Park.

It took them just minutes to take it back.

They scored six runs in the bottom of the seventh - the rally started with two outs and nobody on - in an 11-7 victory over the Chicago Cubs. The game involved a 1-hour, 4-minute rain delay after the Cubs had scored four runs to tie the game in the top of the seventh. The Cubs scored two more once play resumed to take a two-run lead.

The Phillies could sweep the Cubs with a victory this afternoon. It would be their first sweep of the season, and first since Sept. 22-24, when they swept the Florida Marlins to take the lead in the National League wild-card race with just seven games to play.

"What more could you experience in a baseball game, other than a tornado touching down and evacuating the building?" first baseman Greg Dobbs said.

"We got the momentum, and before you know it, we got hit with a haymaker," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.

But the Phillies still took a shot to the solar plexus. They announced afterward they had placed Ryan Howard on the 15-day disabled list with strained left quadriceps. Howard is eligible to be activated May 25. The Phillies recalled Chris Coste from triple-A Ottawa to take Howard's place on the roster.

"I'd rather get better than keep playing and make it worse," Howard said. "The worst-case scenario is that you keep playing and you're out for the rest of the year."

But the Phillies hope Dobbs, who went a career-best 4 for 4 with a triple, two runs scored and two RBIs, Wes Helms and Coste, who primarily will be used as a pinch-hitter, can hold the fort while Howard recovers.

"There's no way I'd ever want to lose Howard," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Not for one day or two weeks. But at the same time, I think we've definitely got to get him well where he can feel comfortable playing. I'm selfish. If I could have him on the bench, I would definitely want that."

They didn't need him yesterday. The Phillies took a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, with the fifth run scoring on a suicide squeeze. Abraham Nuñez stood on third after a triple and Carlos Ruiz bunted the first pitch from Scott Eyre up the third-base line.

It is believed to be the first successful suicide squeeze for the Phillies since May 26, 2000, when Kevin Jordan scored on a bunt by Tom Prince in the sixth inning of an 11-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

"I thought it was ideal," Manuel said. "I figured it was time to show you that I can squeeze."

It was the Phillies' 19th lead after the sixth inning this season. They have lost five of them. It almost became six.

After a sixth inning in which he allowed one run and four hits, Freddy Garcia struggled in the seventh inning. He walked Mark DeRosa to start the inning and allowed a double to Cesar Izturis to put runners on second and third with no outs.

Geoff Geary entered to put out the fire. He had been remarkably successful at that this season. He had allowed just two of 21 inherited runners to score. But Geary's remarkable run hit a wall. He served up a three-run home run to left field to pinch-hitter Matt Murton, and suddenly the Phillies' lead was cut to one, 5-4. The Cubs scored another run before the rain came and caused the delay.

Once action resumed, Antonio Alfonseca allowed two more runs to score to hand the Cubs the lead.

"We were going to stay with it," Nuñez said. "We were OK. There was no panic. We knew we had some game left."

The Phillies had nobody on and two outs in the seventh when Aaron Rowand started things with a single. Chase Utley knocked in Rowand with a double to make it 7-6 and Dobbs' double scored Utley and Pat Burrell, who had walked, for an 8-7 Phillies lead. Dobbs scored on a single from Nuñez to make it 9-7, and Ruiz, who went a career-best 3 for 3, hit a two-run homer to cap the inning.

"Hell of a game," Manuel said.

Gordon remains hospitalized. The Phillies said righthander Tom Gordon, who is on the disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder, remained hospitalized at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital with an upper respiratory infection. Gordon is undergoing further testing. He was admitted Friday.

See a slide show from the game at http://go.philly.com/photos.

Read Phillies beat writer Todd Zolecki's blog at http://blogs.phillynews.com/

inquirer/zozone.

Listen to his podcast at http://go.philly.com/philliescast.

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Contact staff writer Todd Zolecki
at 215-854-4874 or tzolecki@phillynews.com. Read his blog at http://go.philly.com/zozone.