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Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch
Ryan Howard judges himself by how he feels at the plate. But he didn't have to hear the boos at home last week to know others have a different standard.

"To me, it's all about seeing the ball and having good at-bats," said Howard, the Phillies' slugging first baseman, before Tuesday's game against Arizona. "To everyone else, it's about results. That's how it is in the media and everywhere else."

The results haven't been very good for Howard this season. Even after going 1-for-4 with two RBIs Monday, his average had dipped to .169. But results had little to do with why Howard wasn't in the lineup Tuesday.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he has liked Howard's stroke over the last few games, especially against right-handed pitchers, and he didn't want to upset that progress by subjecting him to funky 6-foot-10 Diamondbacks left-hander Randy Johnson.

"He's starting to swing better, but he's never played against Randy Johnson," Manuel said. "With Randy Johnson's arm angle, I didn't want to play him and have him open up too quickly when he's starting to play good. I think he's seeing the ball better. I was happy with some of the at-bats he had (Monday) night."

Howard, who struck out looking against Arizona reliever Tony Pena in the eighth inning, said he was looking forward to the challenge of facing Johnson. He also said he tries to focus on his at-bats, not the reaction of the media or fans to how he's playing.

"I don't really read the paper," said Howard, who leads the majors with 47 strikeouts. "People see what they want to see. There's a lot of stuff that you don't see, other stuff that's going on. I try to do what I can to help the team. Right now, I can't get anything to fall. I'm trying to catch a break."

DIAMONDBACKS 6, PHILLIES 4: Adam Eaton allowed five runs in the third inning to doom the Phillies to a loss at Chase Field. Eric Bruntlett, filling in for injured shortstop Jimmy Rollins, finished 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs. Eaton left the Phillies in a 6-2 hole after four innings, but relievers Rudy Seanez, Tom Gordon and Chad Durbin combined for four scoreless innings to allow for the possibility of a comeback. Jayson Werth finished 2-for-4 with a home run.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 7, 2008

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