Howard's two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning snapped a tie and helped the Phillies pick up a 6-2 victory at Citizens Bank Park Sunday and finally figure out a way to beat the Brewers.

When Jim Thome got off to a blistering start for the White Sox in the opening few weeks of the season, it was tough for even the casual baseball fan not to notice.

It certainly caught Howard's eye. After all, it was his emergence as a rookie while Thome recovered from season-ending elbow surgery that prompted the Phillies to trade the veteran first baseman to the White Sox over the winter.

While Thome had six homers in his first nine games with his new team, Howard hit five in all of April - not bad, but in a world that craves comparisons, it was dwarfed by Thome's hot start.

May has been the great evener. Howard's game-winning homer Sunday was his major-league-leading 12 th long ball for the month. The 12 homers in May ties Howard with Mike Schmidt for the second-most homers by a Phillie in this month, and places him in a tie for seventh for the most homers in any month. Cy Williams (15 in May, 1923) and Thome (15 in June, 2004) share that team record.

When it was mentioned that not every player is able to keep the external pressures out of their heads, Manuel replied, "Most of the really good ones do."

The Phillies (25-24) needed to focus if they didn't want their record to fall below the .500 level for the first time since May 3 and go 0-6 against the Brewers for the season.

Ryan Madson (5-2) went five innings to get the win, but it was his bat that spared the Phillies from coming up empty in the fourth inning when they had runners on second and third and no outs.

A Howard single and Aaron Rowand double off Brewers starter Dana Eveland set up that situation, but Howard made a poor base running decision when he broke for home on a grounder to third by David Bell and was thrown out easily at the plate. After Sal Fasano flied out for the second out, Madson - who came to the plate with four of the eight hits by Phillies' pitchers this season - drove a two-run double to center field that neutralized Corey Koskie's two-run homer in the second inning.

Howard gave the Phils the lead for good in the fifth, but it took some hustling by Chase Utley, some loafing by Milwaukee second baseman Rickie Weeks and some poor eyesight by first-base umpire Tom Hallion to give the big guy a chance.

Utley led off the inning with a routine grounder to Weeks, whose iron hands and erratic arm have many in Milwaukee clamoring for the rookie to be moved to the outfield. Weeks took a little too much time between fielding and throwing; meanwhile, Utley was going full-throttle to first.

The Phils tacked on two insurance runs in the sixth, and relievers Geoff Geary, Rheal Cormier, Arthur Rhodes and closer Tom Gordon quartered four scoreless innings of work with little trouble.

It is the third straight series in which the Phillies had to salvage the final game to avoid the sweep. If they keep requiring salvage efforts they might want to move the ballpark alongside the junkyard lots along Passyunk Avenue.

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