Ryan Howard homers, Phillies beat Cubs 7-4

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PHILADELPHIA — Ryan Howard can still hit right-handers.

Howard homered and drove in three runs to help the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Chicago Cubs 7-4 Sunday.

The 2006 NL MVP may not get a chance to face lefties much the rest of this season after striking out in an important spot in the seventh, but he did the job early.

Howard had a sacrifice fly in the first and hit a two-run shot to right to give the Phillies a 4-1 lead in the third. It was Howard's first homer since Aug. 25 and 22nd this season.

"I told him: 'You can get your act together against lefties next year in spring training," interim manager Pete Mackanin said.

Howard is batting .131 (13 for 99) with three homers and 40 strikeouts vs. lefties. He's hitting .255 (93 for 365) with 19 homers and 66 RBIs against righties. Mackanin didn't pitch-hit for Howard in the seventh against lefty Clayton Richard (3-2) with a runner on third and one out. But he plans to do so in similar spots, depending on who is in the bullpen.

"I talked to him about it and he doesn't agree with me, but he understands," Mackanin said.

Chris Coghlan hit a homer and two triples for the Cubs, who lost two straight to the team with the worst record in the majors. Chicago still has a comfortable lead over San Francisco for the second NL wild-card spot.

"I'm just glad we're not in the same division as the Phillies," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after Chicago finished the season 2-5 against Philadelphia.

Aaron Altherr scored the go-ahead run in the seventh on a wild pitch by Richard with two outs. Altherr hit a triple to left-center and scored one out later when Richard's fastball bounced in front of the plate and skipped to the backstop.

Freddy Galvis hit a two-run double in the eighth to make it 7-4.

Dalier Hinojosa (1-0) gave up one unearned run in one inning to earn his first major league win. Jerome Williams tossed a perfect eighth and Ken Giles finished for his 13th straight save since replacing Jonathan Papelbon after the All-Star closer was traded to Washington.

The Cubs tied it at 4 in the seventh when second baseman Cesar Hernandez booted Anthony Rizzo's bouncer for an error with runners at first and third. Hernandez collided with Rizzo and left the game with a dislocated left thumb.

Phillies starter Aaron Harang allowed three runs and six hits, striking out five in five innings. He's winless in eight starts since July 30.

"They're a tough lineup," Harang said. "Coghlan gave me the most fits."

Cubs starter Dan Haren gave up four runs and seven hits in three innings.

Addison Russell hit an RBI single in the fourth and Coghlan connected in the fifth to cut it to 4-3.

Coghlan nearly hit a homer in the third. His drive to right went for a triple, but it appeared the ball would've landed in the seats if a fan who reached over the railing hadn't dropped it. However, the call was upheld after a video review that lasted 6:17.

Coghlan tripled and scored on Kris Bryant's RBI single in the first.


Phillies RF Brian Bogusevic robbed Dexter Fowler of extra bases with a fully extended diving catch on a drive to right-center leading off the third. Harang showed his appreciation by putting his fist up in the air and pointing to Bogusevic.


Altherr has 12 extra-base hits (six doubles, three triples, three homers) of 19 hits overall in 76 at-bats. "I just try to put the barrel on the ball," Altherr said. "I'm trying to show them I can play here."


Phillies: 3B Maikel Franco is hoping to return from a fractured left wrist before the season ends. The Phillies are targeting Sept. 22 at Miami for Franco's comeback.


Cubs: After a day off Monday, RHP Jason Hammel (8-6, 3.59) and LHP Jon Lester (9-10, 3.50) pitch in a day/night doubleheader at Pittsburgh in the start of an important four-game series. The Pirates and Cubs are battling for home-field advantage in the NL wild-card race.

Phillies: RHP Aaron Nola (6-2, 3.56) opens a three-game series against the free-falling Nationals. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (12-8, 3.32) pitches for Washington.

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