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Howard breaks Phillies' single-season HR record in loss

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Philadelphia Phillies certainly had their
chances for a win that would move them into a tie for first place
in the NL wild-card race.

Philadelphia was one strike away from the victory in the ninth
before blowing that. The Phillies took the lead again in the 10th
and needed just two outs to lock up in the victory in the bottom
half. Instead, they watched Washington manufacture two runs, the
final one coming when Marlon Anderson scored on a bizarre wild
pitch to give the Nationals a 6-5 victory Thursday night,
overshadowing Ryan Howard's franchise record 49th homer.

The loss kept the Phillies (67-66) from moving into a tie with
idle San Diego for first place in the wild-card race. Philadelphia
now is one game behind.

"I guess the best way to say it is we kind of let the game slip
away from us," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. "That
might be even a better way to say it. We kind of let things get
away from us. We've definitely got to learn to be more alert in the
game and everything too."

The Phillies appeared ready to celebrate the win and Howard's
record, which broke Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt's mark of 48 (1980).

Howard went 2-for-2, scored three runs and reached base in all
five plate appearances. His long solo homer in the fourth appeared
to hit a seat in the second deck before bouncing back out.

The first baseman finished August with 14 homers and 41 RBI.
The first baseman leads the majors with 49 homers and 128 RBI.

"Some day in the off-season, when I look back on the season, it
will be (more meaningful)," Howard said. "I try not to focus on
what's going on and just staying alive and trying to win games and
stuff like that. But one day I'll wake up and realize what
happened."

The Nationals ruined the Phillies night by forcing extra innings
with the two-run rally in the ninth. They fell behind again when
Philadelphia pushed across a run on passed ball in the top of the
10th inning.

Anderson's run capped a wild inning that snapped a four-game
losing streak. Brian Schneider tied the game with an RBI single off
of Aaron Fultz that made up for his passed ball which gave the
Phillies the lead and sent Anderson to second after his single.
Anderson then alertly tagged and went to third on Bernie Castro's
fly out.

Fultz bounced a 2-0 pitch to pinch-hitter Ryan Church, who swung
and missed. But the ball hit catcher Mike Lieberthal and bounced
into the air back towards the mound. Fultz grabbed the loose ball
near the plate, but couldn't tag Anderson in time.

"He's a guy that throws a lot of sliders, a lot of balls in the
dirt," Anderson said. "If he bounces it, you want to try to be
aggressive and score there. It's one of those things...it popped up
in the air. I knew I was going to have a chance."

Fultz said he tried but just couldn't get to Anderson in time.

"I guess it was closer than I thought it was going to be,"
Fultz said. "He got a good jump and I tried to get there and I
just didn't make it."

To make a strange night even more unusual, the Nationals
announced after the game that they had traded Anderson to Los
Angeles for pitching prospect Jhonny Nunez.

The Nationals wasted an early 2-0 lead before Howard helped the
Phillies rally. His record-setting solo homer in the fourth tied
the game at 2, and he scored a tie-breaking run on Pat Burrell's
sixth-inning double.

The Phillies added another run in the sixth and took that 4-2
lead into the ninth. With Philadelphia one strike away from the
win, Felipe Lopez tied the game with a two-run single off Arthur
Rhodes with two outs.

It was Rhodes' second blown save in six chances while filling in
for injured closer Tom Gordon.

The Phillies took a 5-4 lead in the 10th when Abraham Nunez
scored from third on Schneider's passed ball. Schneider said the
ball was tipped slightly and replays appeared to confirm that.

Ryan Wagner (2-2) pitched an inning for the victory.

Game notes
Ryan Zimmerman's third-inning bunt single was his 10th of
the season...Lieberthal helped the Phillies set a new team record
when getting hit in the 10th, it was the team's 75th hit batter of
the season, shattering a mark set in 1899.