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Good, Bad & Ugly: Howard's Homers Power Phillies Over Nationals, 9-6

Dave Nichols@@DaveNicholsDSPSenior Analyst IMay 31, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 24:  Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies laughs after hitting a single on a checked swing against the New York Yankees on May 24, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

"I don't know if there's a word the English language has for it yet." Adam Dunn, May 30, 2009

THE RESULT: Ryan Howard hit two home runs, including an estimated 475-foot grand slam, off Nats starter Shairon Martis to lead the Philadelphia Phillies past the Washington Nationals 9-6, before 45,121 at Citizen's Bank Park.
The home runs were the headliner, but the more pivotal play happened in the bottom of the sixth, with the Phils up just one run, 7-6. With two outs and the bases loaded with Phillies, Ron Villone got Howard to quietly ground to second baseman Anderson Hernandez, which should have ended the inning.
Instead, Hernandez booted the routine ground ball, and two more runs came in, sealing the Nats fate Saturday night.
Martis (5-1, 5.62) was shaky, lasting just four innings and giving up seven runs on seven hits and two walks. He struck out just one batter. But he was no worse than Philly starter Cole Hamels, who got the win (3-2), simply by allowing just one less run. Hamels gave up six earned on eight hits and one walk in six innings pitched.
Howard finished 2-for-5 with the two home runs and five driven in. Philadelphia also stole five bases, two apiece off relievers Jesus Colome and Kip Wells.
The Nats got a pinch-hit, two-run home run by Ronnie Belliard, a two-run double from Wil Nieves and an RBI triple from Alberto Gonzalez, recalled earlier in the day when Justin Maxwell was demoted to Triple-A Syracuse.
Unfortunately, three straight Nationals hitters struck out after the triple, leaving Gonzalez standing at third.
THE TAKEAWAY: The Nats have lost five in a row and 14 of their last 16 games. Ten of the last 11 losses have been by three runs or fewer. For the season, the record stands at 13-35-1.
THE GOOD: Alberto Gonzalez. He gave Cristian Guzman the night off to rest a sore thumb, and he went 2-for-3 with a run scored, and the RBI triple.
THE BAD: Ryan Zimmerman went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, leaving two runners on.
THE UGLY: Though he didn't contribute negatively to the scorebook, except for making his pitcher throw more pitches, Adam Dunn made two more errors in right field.
NEXT GAME: Today at 1:35 pm. John Lannan (2-4, 4.11) squares off against ageless Jamie Moyer (3-5, 7.42).