Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/17/12

LOS ANGELES -- If the Philadelphia Phillies have any shot of making the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season, they're going to have to start their run now.

To that end, the National League East basement-dwelling Phils are at least starting to take baby steps. Philadelphia (40-51) edged the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

The Phillies rode eight strong innings from starter Joe Blanton (8-8), and slugger Ryan Howard's first home run of the season was the difference as Philadelphia nailed down its first three-game winning streak since May.

Philadelphia won two of three against the Rockies in Colorado last weekend in the first series after the All-Star break.

"It's going to take some pitching like that from Blanton and (Vance) Worley," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "I think that's going to play a big role, if our pitching shows up the rest of the way."

In eight innings, Blanton threw 110 pitches, gave up six hits, struck out seven and walked none.

"When I was up, I gave up some hits, and when I kept them down, I got some good results," Blanton said. "Hopefully we're going to keep it going, keep working our butts off, and keep trying to play the game the right way."

After falling behind 3-0, Los Angeles scratched out single runs in the sixth and seventh innings to make things interesting. However, closer Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 20th save of the season, as the Dodgers stranded their potential tying run on third.

The Dodgers (48-43) have lost three straight and six of seven. The defeat dropped them two games behind the idle San Francisco Giants in the NL West.

The Phillies nibbled away at 22-year-old Dodgers starter Nathan Eovaldi (1-6), touching up the right-hander for single runs in the second, third and fourth innings.

In the top of second, former Dodger Juan Pierre stroked a two-out single to right-center, scoring Carlos Ruiz from second.

Philadelphia hit solo home runs in consecutive innings to push the lead to 3-0. Jimmy Rollins blasted his ninth home run of the year, a one-out, full-count solo shot to the bleachers in right in the third inning.

Then Howard, who flied out to deep left field in his second-inning plate appearance, drove the first pitch of the top of fourth to out to left-center.

"It feels great," Howard said. "We won the game. It was good to be able to go out and help and contribute. "My confidence was always good, it was just a matter of kind of getting back into the flow of playing at this level. It was something big, something that was very meaningful today. Both teams played a hard-fought 3-2 ballgame, so it made the difference today."

Blanton retired the first seven Dodgers and breezed through the first three innings. Los Angeles finally threatened in the bottom of the fourth, as Mark Ellis hit a leadoff single and Andre Either advanced him to third with a one-out single. However, Ellis was called out for going out of the baseline during a rundown as he tried to score on a Juan Rivera grounder to third. James Loney struck out to end the inning.

"We were fighting all the way," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Nate did OK, and he's coming along. But when you leave a couple out over the plate against hitters the caliber of Rollins and Howard, they're going to make you pay."

NOTES: The fourth-inning homer by Howard, who missed the first 74 games of the season recovering from offseason Achilles tendon surgery, was his first in the regular season since he hit one off Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo on Sept. 11. ... Los Angeles shortstop Luis Cruz committed an error on a Shane Victorino grounder in the top of the first, the Dodgers' sixth in six innings going back to the fourth inning of Sunday's loss to San Diego. ... Victorino hit his third triple in as many games in the fifth inning. ... Rollins' home run gave him hits in eight straight games against Los Angeles. ... Reliever Javy Guerra, who missed three games on bereavement leave while spending time with his family as his father had open heart surgery, could return to the Dodgers as soon as Tuesday. Guerra has stayed in constant contact with Mattingly, who said, "It's kind of up in the air if he's going to be back (Tuesday) or not."

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