RYAN HOWARD launched his second home run in as many games to lead off the second inning and score the game's first run.

Chase Utley continued his quiet, productive start to the season by leading off with his own home run, his team-leading sixth, in the third inning.

Domonic Brown made it three straight leadoff home runs when he swatted a pitch from Ricky Nolasco into the cool, May night for what was also his second home run of the last 2 days.

The giant Liberty Bell - a classier, more patriotic, and far more sensible version of the odd home run celebration art piece in Miami - was a-rockin' Friday night in South Philly.

It was a welcome change from the he-said, he-said noise before the game: Cliff Lee was accused of doctoring baseballs and Roy Halladay chewed out Mitch Williams in a lively afternoon. And the hearty ovations for each long ball was music to manager Charlie Manuel's ears following a week ini which his offense played to Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence."

The bats came out to play. But perhaps more important, the 22-year-old who had a 9.64 ERA at Triple A 2 weeks ago continued to churn out effective major league starts. Jonathan Pettibone pitched into the seventh inning of his third major league start and never let the hapless Marlins create any life as the Phils rolled to a 4-1 win.

"That's kind of what you want to do every time you go out there - give the team a chance to win - and I've been able to do that three times," Pettibone said of his success since arriving to Citizens Bank Park for his first start on April 22. "I kind of stuck to the same game plan, built off each start."

The victory was the fifth for the Phillies in their last seven games. All five have come against the Marlins and New York Mets, the bottom-feeders of the National League East.

But all wins count the same in the final standings, and the Phils can look forward to 27 more games with their less-talented divisional foes, including two more this weekend before a trickier test out West against the Giants and Diamondbacks.

The Phils do pretty well when they play the Mets and Marlins; they're 9-2 in 11 games. They also fare all right when Pettibone takes the mound.

When told he's produced three wins in three starts since his big-league promotion, Pettibone was asked whether he could have drawn it up any better.

"Two wins; I wish it was three," he said.

Nope, John, three team wins.

"Oh, OK," the rookie said with a sheepish laugh. "Sorry."

It was one of the few mistakes Pettibone made Friday night. He held the Marlins to one hit - a single - in the first three innings.

After serving up a home run to Donovan Solano to begin the fourth, he retired the next three batters to end the inning. He repeated the trick in the fifth, allowing a leadoff double, then stranding the runner on second by recording three quick outs.

"That's when you have to make your biggest pitches: You get the mentality to beat down and get yourself out of it," Pettibone said. "I just wanted to make a statement when I got up here - just staying aggressive. I've been able to do that since I've been up here."

Pettibone held the Fish to one run on five hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out three and didn't walk a batter.

In three starts since replacing John Lannan (left knee) in the rotation, Pettibone is 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA. He's struck out 13 while walking two in 16 2/3 innings.

No matter how the season plays out for the unpredictable Halladay and the rest of the proven pitchers in the rotation, if the Phils can get that kind of dependability out of a fifth starter, they'll be thrilled.

"What do I need to say?" Manuel said. "We won all three games and he pitched real good. What more can I say? He's done real good."

Pettibone's poise and performance since he arrived have eased what could have very well been a worrisome spot with Lannan on the disabled list.

Meanwhile, an awakening from both Howard and Brown could ease what's ailed the offense. Howard's home run was his fourth in his last nine games. In his last 13 games, Howard is hitting .348 (16-for-46) with four home runs, five doubles and 13 RBI.

"He's been more patient - he's starting to get good balls to hit, and he's staying on the ball better," Manuel said. "And he's putting the fat part of the bat on the ball."

After going 3-for-4 on Thursday, Brown ripped his fifth home run of the season Friday night to provide production from an otherwise comatose outfield. Brown has hit safely in seven of his last nine games: .382 (13-for-34) with two doubles and three home runs.

"He's hitting the ball good, and he's getting some results," Manuel said. "He's swinging very good."

Said Brown: "We're just trying to keep it going, keep squaring it up."

On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

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