Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/6/12

The Philadelphia Phillies' 2012 season sank to a new low on Thursday at Citi Field. All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon, who had reeled off 17 straight saves to begin his Phillies career, blew his second save opportunity in his last three chances in a 6-5 loss to the Mets.

The defeat put the Phils a season-high 13 games behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East standings. They have lost seven of their last eight games and are 8 1/2 games back in the race for the National League wild card, behind eight other teams.

But for the second time in a week, general manager Ruben Amaro is sending a jolt through his fading team. Following Thursday's win, Amaro said first baseman Ryan Howard was "likely to play in Philadelphia" on Friday night.

Howard has missed the first three months of the season while recovering from left Achilles' surgery. He went 2-for-3 with an RBI on Thursday at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, the seventh game of his minor league rehab assignment.

Howard went 10-for-20 with a home run and two doubles and 10 RBI in those seven games between low Class A Lakewood and Lehigh Valley.

"I think he thinks he's ready," Amaro said of Howard, who will be evaluated Friday before he's given the final go-ahead to return.

Howard hasn't played in a game since suffering a complete rupture to his left Achilles tendon on the final play of the final game of the 2011 season, Game 5 of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Howard's bat appears to be major league-ready. His surgically repaired left leg has apparently improved in the last month, too.

"Pretty good," Amaro said. "He's not a speedster and he'll probably be a little slower than he was before. He's moving OK. He's had a tiny hitch in his giddy-up, I guess, but when he's running full speed he looks pretty smooth."

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Rams owner buys massive 520,000-acre Texas ranch

Cam Newton explains why he did not dive on fumble

George Karl’s agent rips Kings, wants broadcaster reprimanded

WATCH: Popovich has funny reaction to New Hampshire results

Suns vets pull packing peanut prank on rookie Devin Booker

Teammate gives Manning final completion ball from Super Bowl

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Ole Miss Football cited in 13 of 28 department violations by NCAA

Larry Sanders to consider NBA comeback after other interests stabilize

The NCAAB power rankings

SEC begins crying foul over Jim Harbaugh’s spring break plans at Michigan

Marc Gasol reportedly out indefinitely with broken foot

Patriots waive Montee Ball despite never officially re-signing running back

WATCH: Blackhawks coach walks out of press conference

Greg McElroy: Cam Newton 'quit on his team'

Tennis umpires secretly banned over gambling issues

WATCH: Dancing Kentucky fan slides down rail, fails

Clemson LB has great response to NFL draft analyst's criticism

Former Aggies QB Kyle Allen reveals culture problems at Texas A&M

Roy Williams collapses during game vs. BC

Panthers TE Greg Olsen shaves off his playoff beard

Derek Fisher thanks Knicks in statement

Miami Heat to honor Shaq by retiring his number 32

Oakland Raiders release Nate Allen

B.J. Penn announces he will return at UFC 197

Bring back the Dunk Contest

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker