They try for their first sweep of the season when they wrap up a three-game set with the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.
After blowing a lead by allowing six runs in the top of the seventh on Saturday, Philadelphia (17-19) answered with six runs in the bottom of the inning to beat the Cubs 11-7.
“We got the momentum and before you know it, we get hit with a haymaker,” Chicago manager Lou Piniella said.
The Phillies started the season just 3-10, but are suddenly flirting with .500. They’ve scored 27 runs during their three-game winning streak.
Greg Dobbs, the replacement for Howard, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a left quadriceps strain, had the go-ahead two-run triple as part of a 4-for-4 day.
“Having a guy like him out of the lineup is tough because he’s such an impact player,” Dobbs said of losing Howard. “It’s extremely unfortunate. We’re going to miss him. When you’re a bench player, your starts are few and far between so you have to do your job.”
Third baseman Abraham Nunez went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs, and is batting .421 (8-for-19) in his last five games.
While the Philadelphia offense is beginning to break out, the Cubs (16-18) pitching staff is suddenly collapsing.
After allowing an average of 2.8 runs during a 9-2 stretch, Chicago has given up 24 runs to drop three straight.
The Cubs hope Ted Lilly (2-2, 2.78 ERA) can stop the slide when he makes his first career appearance against the Phillies in the series finale.
Lilly, who spent the past seven seasons in the AL before being acquired by Chicago in December, has been exceeding expectations with his new club, but hasn’t got much offensive support. He has given up two runs or fewer in five of his seven starts this season, but the Cubs have scored two or less four times with him on the mound.
The left-hander allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings of a 4-3, 15-inning loss on Tuesday. He has 42 strikeouts in 45 1-3 innings, and leads the majors with a 6.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Chicago’s Alfonso Soriano had two singles on Saturday to extend his career-best hitting streak to 20 games, while Derrek Lee went 4-for-5 and scored two runs, one game after his 17-game hitting streak ended.
Lee is batting .409 (9-for-22) with two doubles in his career against Philadelphia’s Jon Lieber (1-1, 3.33), who is making his start two days behind schedule because of a cut on the middle finger of his pitching hand.
The right-hander has posted a 2.55 ERA in four starts, but is coming off his first loss of the season. He gave up four runs and seven hits - including Barry Bonds’ 744th career home run - in six innings of a 9-4 loss to San Francisco on May 5.
Lieber, who pitched for the Cubs from 1999-2002, and was an All-Star in 2001, is 5-5 with a 4.46 ERA in 15 games - 11 starts - against his former team.