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Phils slug their way out of funk

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Chris Coste each hit home runs, and the Philadelphia Phillies pounded Greg Maddux in his first start for the Dodgers in an 8-1 victory over Los Angeles on Friday night.

The Phillies snapped a six-game losing streak to the Dodgers and remain 2 1/2 games behind the Mets in the NL East.

Maddux, who was traded from San Diego on Tuesday, allowed seven runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings, one of his worst outings of the season. The right-hander remained stuck on 353 wins, one shy of tying Roger Clemens for eighth on the career list.

Howard was a big reason why, hitting an opposite-field shot for his 34th home run and giving the Phillies a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning. Howard had entered the at-bat 3-for-36 with 18 strikeouts and just one homer in his last 14 games.

The Phillies did most of their damage in the sixth inning, when they scored four runs and knocked Maddux (6-10) out of the game. Coste capped the frame with a three-run homer to left field as the Phillies’ slumbering offense scored its most runs this month.

Philadelphia entered Friday night with 61 runs in its 19 games (3.1 per contest), and hadn’t scored more than seven runs since July 31.

Kyle Kendrick (11-7) rebounded from two poor outings and a first-inning homer by Andre Ethier, going 5 2-3 innings and giving up only two other hits while striking out three and walking one.

Kendrick had allowed 13 runs on 15 hits in seven innings his last two outings, including an 8-6 loss against the Dodgers on Aug. 11 in Los Angeles.

Maddux, who was 6-3 with a 3.30 ERA in 12 starts in his first stint with the Dodgers in 2006, allowed more than nine hits only three times in 26 starts with the Padres this season.

Notes: Jimmy Rollins went 0-for-4, dropping him to 3-for-37 (.081) since calling Philadelphia fans “front-runners” in a television interview last week. ... Beginning with Friday’s game, the Dodgers play 23 of their last 35 on the road. ... Phillies outfielder Geoff Jenkins left the game after sustaining a high quad strain running the bases in the third inning.

Mets 3, Astros 0

NEW YORK — Johan Santana allowed eight hits in seven innings, and the New York Mets took advantage of the only two mistakes made by Roy Oswalt to beat the Astros.

Brian Schneider hit a two-run homer and David Wright had an RBI single as the Mets beat a team with a record over .500 after winning nine of 10 against lowly Washington, Pittsburgh and Atlanta to open a 2 1/2 -game lead over Philadelphia in the NL East coming in. The Mets have gone 14-4 since being swept by Houston in a three-game series to start the month.

Ryan Church returned to New York’s lineup after sitting out with post-concussion syndrome since July 5 and was met with a sustained standing ovation. Perhaps the team’s best player before his second head injury in less than three months on May 20, Church beat out a grounder to deep third in the second inning for a hit.

Schneider then put to rest Church’s pregame joking that he did not have a big bat behind him for protection by homering to right for a 3-0 lead.

That mistake by Oswalt — and a wild pitch that set up Wright’s RBI single in the first — was all the Mets would need with Santana (12-7) on the mound.

The ace, let down by the Mets’ bullpen on several occasions this season, won his third straight start and fifth straight decision.

He was not as sharp as he was in pitching his first shutout as a member of the Mets on Aug. 17. He needed 121 pitches to get through seven innings, but he was unhittable with runners in scoring position.

The Astros twice had runners on second and third but a resilient Santana shut down Houston, the second time knocking down a sharp comebacker by Lance Berkman with his glove and recovering to make the throw and end the fifth.

Nationals 13, Cubs 5

CHICAGO — Willie Harris hit his first career grand slam and a two-run homer, and the Washington Nationals overcame a four-run deficit to beat the Chicago Cubs.

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