Series: Game 3 of 4

Philadelphia leads 2-1 (as of 9/3)

Game 1: Friday, September 1
Game 1: Saturday, September 2
Game 2: Saturday, September 2
Game 3: Sunday, September 3
Game 4: Sunday, September 3
in 11

Braves 7

(64-71, 34-36 away)

Phillies 8

(69-67, 35-36 home)

    1:35 PM ET, September 3, 2006

    Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

    123456789 R H E
    ATL 100000024 7 11 0
    PHI 014001002 8 10 0

    W: G. Geary (7-0)

    L: B. Wickman (1-5)

    Phils cap Howard's 3-homer day with comeback win

    PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Ryan Howard belted three homers to reach 52 for the season, and the Philadelphia Phillies survived another implosion from their bullpen in a dramatic 8-7 victory over the Atlanta Braves in the first game of a doubleheader.

    Howard connected off Braves starter Tim Hudson for all three homers.

    "The kid was locked in," Hudson said. "I made some pretty good pitches to him on the first two homers. He's pretty hot right now."

    The power display by Howard helped the Phillies build what looked to be a 6-1 lead after seven innings. However, the Phillies' beleaguered bullpen surrendered a lead in the late innings for the third time in the last four games.

    Former Phillie Todd Pratt hit a two-run homer off starter Jamie Moyer in the eighth to bring the Braves within 6-3. An inning later, the Braves took the lead against Ryan Madson and Fabio Castro.

    Willy Aybar, Andruw Jones and Jeff Francoeur all singled to chase Madson, who also failed to record an out in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader when the Phillies squandered a 3-2 lead.

    Despite the Phillies activating All-Star closer Tom Gordon from the disabled list earlier Sunday, Manuel elected to go with the untested Castro, who was appearing in his 17th career game.

    Manuel went to Castro over veteran Arthur Rhodes, who suffered blown saves Thursday at Washington and Saturday.

    Castro got Adam LaRoche to ground out as Aybar scored to bring the Braves within 6-4. But Matt Diaz deposited an 0-1 pitch the opposite way over the right field wall for his sixth homer to give the Braves the lead.

    "It was a fastball away," Diaz said of the home run pitch. "It's the same place the first one was that I took a terrible swing at. So he went right back to the same spot."

    On the verge of another devastating loss as they chase their first playoff berth since 1993, the Phillies rallied in the bottom of the ninth against Bob Wickman (0-1), who had converted all 11 of his save chances since being acquired from Cleveland.

    Rookie Chris Coste started things in the ninth with an infield hit when he avoided a tag by Wickman on a slow roller up the first base line. Abraham Nunez sacrificed and Wickman walked pinch hitter Randall Simon.

    Jimmy Rollins delivered a run-scoring single to left field to score pinch runner Joe Thurston with the tying run. The red-hot Shane Victorino followed with a single into right field to score pinch runner Carlos Ruiz and touch off a wild celebration at the plate.

    "A wild finish, but the best thing is we won the game," Manuel said.

    Victorino finished with two hits and is batting .452 (19-for-42) in his last nine games.

    Philadelphia (69-67) started the day one game behind San Diego in the National League wild card race.

    Geoff Geary (7-0) recorded the final two outs in the top of the ninth for the win. The effort by the Phillies' bullpen spoiled a solid outing from Moyer, who gave up three runs and six hits in 7 1/3 innings. The soft-tossing 43-year-old lefthander walked two and struck out three.

    Hudson gave up six runs and six hits in seven innings with two walks and four strikeouts.

    Game notes

    The Phillies put RHP Scott Mathieson on the 15-day DL with a sprained right elbow. He was injured in his start Saturday. They also recalled RHP Brian Sanches and RHP Clay Condrey from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. ... New York's Jose Reyes also hit three homers in a game this season in Philadelphia on Aug. 15.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press