Howard, who had six strikeouts and zero hits in 12 at-bats since going 2-for-4 in his 2012 debut, flied out to the base of the wall in the second inning, then hit his first home run of the season in the fourth, a solo shot off Dodgers righthander Nate Eovaldi.
The Phillies entered the game 39-51, 10 1/2 games behind wild-card co-leaders Atlanta and Pittsburgh. They took two out of three games from the Rockies over the weekend, but started the week with an 18-36 record against non-losing teams, including a four-game sweep at the hands of the Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park in early June.
On Tuesday night, Roy Halladay will return to the mound for the first time since late May, fueling hopes that a pitching renaissance can help launch the kind of run the Phillies will need to claw back into the postseason race. In Monday's win, Blanton struck out seven without walking a batter, allowing his only runs in the sixth and seventh innings. The Dodgers had two on and nobody out in both innings, but failed to take advantage.
As of game time Monday, the Dodgers still had not announced their starter for Tuesday's game. Righthander Chad Billingsley is technically still an option after two MRIs revealed nothing more than inflammation in his tender elbow. But a minor league call-up seems more likely, with righthanders Stephen Fife and John Ely the top two options.
Either way, it works out for the Phillies, who were originally slated to face lefty Chris Capuano, who historically has been a tough matchup. Over the last three seasons, Capuano has held the Phillies to six runs with 17 strikeouts and four walks in 16 innings over three starts.
Charlie Manuel did not rule out the possibility of Laynce Nix returning to the team for this weekend's home series against the Giants. The lefthanded-hitting outfielder/first baseman has been sidelined since May 9 with a strained calf. Nix, who was hitting .326 with a .382 on-base percentage and .587 slugging percentage at the time of the injury, is currently rehabbing for Class A Clearwater ... Outfielder Domonic Brown went 1-for-3 with a walk in his return to the lineup at Triple A Lehigh Valley after spending the previous month sidelined with a knee injury ... Manuel was non-committal when asked how long he will keep Ryan Howard and Chase Utley on their current schedule of playing 2 out of every 3 days. He said he plans to "turn them loose" at some point. It remains to be seen whether Wednesday's matchup against lefty Clayton Kershaw, the defending NL Cy Young winner, is that point.