Howard returned after missing six games following the win last Saturday that clinched the NL East Division title. He'd been hobbling around on his left ankle and needed to take some time off after the injection. But he showed no signs the ankle was affecting him as he raced after that fly ball and took second base on a wild pitch in the seventh, when he drove home the Phillies' lone run with a single. It was his 114th RBI.
"I just tried to go up there and be patient and focus on tracking the ball," Howard said.
The Phillies' losing streak was extended to eight games in the nightcap, 6-3. They have scored 16 runs during the skid, an average of two runs a game.
"It's got to be important [to score more] if you want to win games," Howard said. "We have to get some runs across."
Howard was not in the starting lineup for the night game.
"That would definitely be overloading him," Manuel said. "Our trainer feels the same way."
Hamels seeks work
In preparation for the playoffs, Cole Hamels hopes to throw 75-80 pitches in the final game of the regular season Wednesday at Atlanta. He will be pitching with three days off between starts rather than the usual four, but that's fine by him because he is scheduled to start Game 3 of the National League division series Oct. 4 on six days' rest.
"I know I'm going to get some innings," said Hamels, who pitched seven innings and allowed one run in Saturday afternoon's loss. "It's a matter of what innings I'm going to get. My arm feels really good. I don't feel I'm hitting all my spots as well as I can, so maybe it'll be one of those kind of starts, just enough to get it all down."
Hamels gave up a home run to pinch-hitter Valentino Pascucci with two out in the seventh inning. Pascucci was at the Phillies' training camp in 2008 and played 25 games for triple-A Lehigh Valley before he was released. It was Pascucci's first homer since Oct. 2, 2004, when he played for the Montreal Expos.
"I do," Hamels said when asked if he remembered Pascucci. "And he hit shots just like that, so it kind of sucks I had to give one up to him."
The Phillies' eight-game losing streak is the longest by any team following a league- or division-clinching win since the first World Series in 1903. The Minnesota Twins had the previous longest streak. They dropped five straight after clinching the AL West in 1987. . . . Brad Lidge's string of 11 consecutive scoreless appearances covering 81/3 innings ended in the first game when David Wright doubled home the winning run.
Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at firstname.lastname@example.org or @rayparrilloinq on Twitter.