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Rollins extends hit streak to 26, Phils top Braves in 10

ATLANTA (AP) -- When it comes to grand slams, Ryan Howard has a
good sense of timing.

The slugging rookie hit his second career slam in the 10th
inning Wednesday night to give Philadelphia a 10-6 victory over the
Atlanta Braves, boosting the Phillies' faltering playoff hopes.

Howard, who came up from the minors to replace the injured Jim
Thome, hit his first grand slam against the Los Angeles Dodgers on
Aug. 10 -- a ninth-inning shot that broke a 5-all tie.

This one was even bigger, keeping the Phillies from a
devastating loss after they blew two three-run leads.

"Every game is tight. Every game is a must-win," Howard said.
"You've got to go out there and handle your business. Hopefully,
you're there at the end."

Jimmy Rollins drove in two runs and extended his hitting streak
to 26 games as the Phillies pulled within five games of the Braves
in the NL East.

Both teams have 10 games remaining, leaving Atlanta's magic
number for clinching a 14th straight division title at six.

The Phillies' best hope for reaching the playoffs is the wild
card. They remained two games behind Houston, which won 12-8 at
Pittsburgh after jumping to an 8-0 lead in the second inning.

"I stopped watching that one on the scoreboard," manager
Charlie Manuel said. "I figured it was over."

Adam LaRoche hit a three-run homer and had four RBI for the
Braves. Johnny Estrada added a two-run homer.

It wasn't enough.

Philadelphia loaded the bases with no outs in the 10th off Kyle
Davies (7-4). Shane Victorino hit into a forceout at the plate, and
the Braves brought in left-hander John Foster to face Howard.

The move made sense -- Howard was hitting .120 (6-of-50) with one
RBI off lefties. Manuel called his hitter back to the dugout, but
had no intention of sending up someone else.

"I told him to relax and make sure he stayed on the ball," the
manager said.

Foster, who had not pitched in eight days because of a sore
elbow, fell behind 2-0, then gave up Howard's 19th homer -- an
opposite-field shot into the left-field stands.

"I figured I got it pretty good," he said. "With a 2-0 count,
I was looking for a fastball."

Foster said his elbow wasn't the issue.

"I just made a bad pitch," he said. "It was supposed to be
away. It was down the middle."

Geoff Geary (2-1) pitched the ninth inning and got the win.

Rollins kept his hitting streak going with a fourth-inning
single, tying the Phillies' post-1900 record. Chuck Klein had two
26-game streaks in 1930.

Two Philadelphia players had longer streaks before 1900: Billy
Hamilton's 36-game run in 1894 and Ed Delahanty's 31-game streak in
1899.

The Phillies scored three runs in the second off Horacio
Ramirez, who started in place of John Smoltz. Atlanta's top winner
skipped his spot in the rotation to rest an ailing shoulder.

Ramirez, who has endured an up-and-down season, gave up a
two-run homer to David Bell and an unearned run scored when Jeff
Francoeur overran a single to right field for an error.

The Braves tied it at 3 off Brett Myers. Estrada homered off his
former team in the fourth, and LaRoche tied it up with a
bases-loaded walk in the fifth.

Philadelphia built another three-run lead. Rollins' two-run
single with two outs in the sixth made it 5-3, and Chase Utley's
added an RBI single the next inning.

Again, the Braves rallied. With two outs and two runners on,
Ryan Madson threw a chest-high fastball that LaRoche hit 393 feet
into the right-field stands. Bobby Abreu barely moved as the ball
soared over his head for LaRoche's 18th homer.

"It was a tight (strike) zone tonight, so you could look for
your pitch," LaRoche said. "Good for hitters, bad for pitchers."

While the Braves still have a comfortable lead in the division,
they want to finish strong. Atlanta is 25-22 since the beginning of
August.

"We'll probably get away with it," LaRoche said, "but that's
not the kind of ball you want to be playing."

Myers lasted five innings, giving up three runs, four hits and
four walks.

Ramirez didn't help his chances of making Atlanta's possible
postseason rotation. He went six innings, allowing seven hits,
walking four and getting charged with five runs (four earned).

Game notes
SS Rafael Furcal set an Atlanta record with the 187th
stolen base of his career, breaking the mark he shared with Otis
Nixon for one day. Furcal has 44 steals this season. ... The
franchise record for career steals belongs to Hank Aaron, who
picked up most of his 240 while the Braves were in Milwaukee.
Furcal is third on the franchise list, also trailing Rabbit
Maranville (194). ... The Phillies improved to 6-4 in extra-inning
games, while the Braves dropped to 6-6.