Phillies 11, Nationals 2

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Ryan Howard made up for an early mistake in a big way.

After a throwing error cost Philadelphia a run early, Howard hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the sixth inning to help the Phillies beat the Washington Nationals 11-2 on Monday night.

“After I made the error, I said to myself I have to get it back some way, somehow,” Howard said.

It’s been a memorable May for Howard. He has hit 13 homers and 33 RBIs— both tops in the majors for the month—for the Phillies, who have won two straight.

“It’s cool, but it’s not something I’ve really thought about,” Howard said. “I’m just trying to stay focused at the plate and put some good swings together.”

Clay Condrey (1-0) pitched four strong innings in relief of injured starter Jon Lieber to earn the win - his first since April 4, 2003.

“You have to show them what you got, that’s all I’m trying to do,” Condrey said. “I’ve made some tweaks in my mechanics and my speeds are up. This is a big confidence booster for me.”

Condrey, who hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2003 with San Diego, yielded an unearned run on three hits. He struck out three and walked one.

“(Condrey) cuts and sinks the ball really well, nothing is straight,” Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. “His stuff has gotten much better since he’s been here.”

Lieber left the game for a pinch-hitter in the second inning. He suffered a left groin strain while fielding a ground ball in the top half of the inning.

Lieber was placed on the 15-day disabled list after the game. The club brought up RHP reliever Brian Sanches from Triple-A Scranton where he was 2-2 with a 2.49 ERA and seven saves in 19 games.

Ryan Zimmerman homered for the Nationals, who have lost two of three.

Washington starter Michael O’Connor (2-3) was struck on the left ankle by a Chase Utley line drive in the sixth inning. After a couple of warm-up pitches, O’Connor departed.

Gary Majewski came in and got the first out. After a walk to Pat Burrell, Howard hit a line drive into the front row of the leftfield seats, which has become a favorite spot for Howard’s long drives.

“Ryan hits more home runs to the opposite field than any power hitter I’ve ever seen, it amazes me,” Manuel said.

It was Howard’s 18th homer, tied for second with Washington’s Alfonso Soriano in the NL behind St. Louis’ Albert Pujols (25).

The Phillies added five runs in the seventh as Burrell and David Bell each collected two-run singles and Aaron Rowand doubled home another run. Bell finished with three hits.

“They got nine runs in the last three innings, you can’t do that and win ballgames,” Washington manager Frank Robinson said.

Howard’s throwing error came on a botched run-down play in the fourth inning. With runners on first and third, Lieber picked Marlon Byrd off first base. Howard caught the ball, looked Nick Johnson back to third, and sailed a throw into leftfield allowing Johnson to score easily.

Philadelphia scored its first two runs on a Bobby Abreu RBI groundout and a Sal Fasano RBI double.

O’Connor was pitching well before his injury. He retired 10 of the last 12 batters he faced, with the only hits coming from Utley, who tripled in the third. He was left stranded when O’Connor struck out Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell to end the threat.

O’Connor was optimistic about making his next start, “I really didn’t have a chance to react, it got me pretty good. It’s just a little bruise. I’ll be OK.”

Robinson wasn’t as sure as his left-hander.

“We’ll have to wait and see (Tuesday),” he said. “He took a pretty good shot. I watched him throw (warm-ups) and he was wincing on every pitch.”

O’Connor surrendered three runs and five hits while striking out five.


Natalie Gulbis, who plays on the LPGA tour, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … Mike Lieberthal, who was activated from the 15-day DL before the game, pinch-hit for Lieber and flied out. … Zimmerman leads all NL rookies with nine home runs. … Howard has a team-high eight errors. … Condrey had an unassisted pickoff of Alfonso Soriano at second base. … Howard’s 13 homers in the month is two shy of the Phillies record for any month - Cy Williams (May 1923) and Jim Thome (June 2004).

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