"I was looking for a different pitch and he ran a sinker in and it was an excuse-me check-swing down the line," Howard said.
Righthander Jonathan Broxton replaced Marshall and hit Delmon Young to load the bases.
Brown then knocked in the lead run after being credited with a fielder's choice. Shortstop Zack Cozart got to his grounder up the middle, but flipped the ball behind second baseman Brandon Phillips, who was charged with the error for not handling the flip. Michael Young scored the fourth run on the play.
"He's coming in 97-98 miles per hour and I was just looking for a pitch I could drive," Brown said.
Carlos Ruiz then hit a sacrifice fly to center, with Howard's headfirst slide just beating the throw of Shin-Soo Choo for the fifth run.
"As soon as Choo caught it I took off and saw [John] Mayberry's hand to get down and I tried to get my hand in there quick and was able to beat it out," Howard said.
Howard got his left hand in, but it also caught the cleat of catcher Ryan Hanigan.
"That extra run was huge for us," Howard said.
Jonathan Papelbon then pitched a scoreless ninth for his eighth save.
Besides limiting one of baseball's best offenses to two runs over seven innings, Lee also displayed a home run trot, if not the actual home run.
Lee allowed six hits and two runs over the seven innings, striking out seven and walking two. He threw 111 pitches and was also 1 for 2 with two runs scored and raised his batting average to .267.
Leading by 3-2, Lee literally ran to the mound in the seventh inning. He was just as quick pitching, needing only seven pitches to retire the side before he would depart.
The Reds were just as quick to take advantage of his absence. Joey Votto tied the score with a solo home run to center on Antonio Bastardo's second pitch in the eighth inning.
"I wanted to get a win but after the home run, that was gone but it was good by us to continue to fight and play the game out and get away with a win," Lee said. "The team win is what really matters."
Early in the game Lee pitched out of trouble and after two innings had thrown 45 pitches but hadn't allowed a run.
"I was able to get out of a couple of jams and not give up runs," Lee said. "I got lucky."
The Phillies opened the scoring in the third inning with Jimmy Rollins' two-run home run to left field, his third of the season. Rollins left no doubt about it on a 3-1 fastball by rookie lefthander Tony Cingrani, clocked at 92 m.p.h.
That two-run shot snapped a streak of 16 consecutive solo home runs by the Phillies.
Lee just missed hitting a home run to right in the fifth. In fact he went into his home run trot, but the ball went off the right-field wall.
So Lee settled for a leadoff double. "I thought it was gone no doubt about it," Lee said of the blast.
Lee was sacrificed to third by Rollins and after Chase Utley struck out, Michael Young hit an RBI triple that Choo just missed making a running catch in center.
The Reds finally solved Lee in the sixth when Phillips led off with a double and then Jay Bruce crushed a hanging curveball for a two-run homer to right.
Contact Marc Narducci
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