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Howard drives in four vs. Rays to halt Phils' six-game skid

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The boombox was blaring music loudly in the
Philadelphia locker room for the first time in eight days, and it
sounded really good to the Phillies.

Ryan Howard homered and drove in four runs to help the Phillies
snap a season-worst six-game losing streak, 8-5 over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Sunday.

Philadelphia salvaged its first victory on its nine-game
homestand, which concludes with a three-game set against the New York Yankees beginning on Monday. The team starts a nine-game road
trip on Friday that includes stops in Boston, Baltimore and
Toronto.

"We wanted to turn on the music in the clubhouse and have some
fun again," Ryan Madson said.

Nobody may have been more happy than Phillies manager Charlie
Manuel, who has come under scrutiny for his team's sloppy and
unproductive play over the recent stretch.

"Two things can happen in this game with a stretch of games
like this, you either lay down and die, which happens a lot, or you
can rise up and go," he said. "We're going to be all right."

The win also ended a five-game losing streak to Tampa Bay, which
owns a 10-5 mark against the Phillies since the series started in
1998.

David Dellucci had three hits and Chase Utley scored three runs
for Philadelphia, which finished with 13 hits, including one by
every position player.

Utley and Howard both needed a big day and got it against the
Devil Rays.

Utley, who came into the game mired in a 5-for-42 (.119)
stretch, went 2-for-5. His two-out RBI single tied it at 3 in the
fifth.

Howard hadn't been much better. He had four hits in his previous
21 at-bats and, making matters worse, committed a costly error in
Tampa Bay's two-run third inning.

He turned it around in the fifth.

With two runners on and two outs, Howard hit a pitch from Seth
McClung (2-10) the opposite way into the left-field seats to give
the Phillies a 6-3 lead -- the team's first lead of the series.
Fourteen of Howard's 23 homers have gone to left field.

"Everybody has to step it up to help break us out of this.
Nothing had to be said before the game, we all knew what we had to
do," Howard said.

Howard added an RBI single and Abraham Nunez doubled in a run in
the seventh to make it 8-4 Philadelphia.

Madson (7-4) gave up four runs -- two earned -- and five hits in 6
2-3 innings for his fourth win in his last six starts. He struck
out four and walked two. He blanked the Devil Rays in the first
inning -- something no Phillies starter had done in the last five
games.

"I felt really good out there," Madson said. "We know this
team is going to score runs, as a staff, our job has to stop giving
up big runs."

Rheal Cormier relieved Madson in the seventh with runners on
first and third. After Tomas Perez scored on a wild pitch to make
it 6-4, Cormier got Carl Crawford to ground out to end the inning.

Arthur Rhodes gave up an RBI double by Aubrey Huff in the eighth
and left the game with two runners on and one out. Tom Gordon, who
hadn't pitched since June 10, got the final five outs for his 19th
save in 20 opportunities.

"I definitely had a rush, probably because it had been a long
time since I had pitched," said Gordon, who gave up two hits and a
walk.

Tampa Bay, which scored first in all three games of the series,
took a 1-0 lead when Russell Branyan hit a drive to right field in
the second inning for his eighth homer.

The Devils Rays took advantage of some shoddy defense to pad
their lead to 3-0 in the third. Josh Paul hit a soft liner to first
baseman Howard, who dropped the ball. Two outs later, Crawford
lined a shot into the right-field seats for his 10th homer.

Philadelphia strung together three two-out singles in the third,
cutting the deficit to 3-2. Shane Victorino scored on a wild pitch
and Bobby Abreu added an RBI single.

McClung lost his sixth straight start, surrendering six runs and
eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked two.

"Seth's just got to keep pushing, you can't give up," Tampa
Bay catcher Josh Paul said.

Game notes
The Devil Rays used five consecutive pinch hitters in the
top of the eighth inning. ... The Phillies are 15-5 when Howard
homers. ... Before Howard's home run, eight of the team's last 10
homers were solo shots. ... Since a 13-1 streak in June, the
Phillies are 12-20. ... Tampa Bay finished 5-5 on its 10-game road
trip. ... Eight of Branyan's last 13 hits have been homers.