ATLANTA (AP) — Philadelphia Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg sensed it would be a good night for Kyle Kendrick when the right-hander threw his first six pitches for strikes.
"They were quality pitches, and it pretty much lasted throughout the outing," Sandberg said. "Probably his best outing of the year as far as establishing command and the quality of pitches."
Ryan Howard homered, Kendrick won consecutive starts for the first time in 11 months and the Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves 5-2 on Tuesday night.
The Phillies, winners of two straight and six of eight, got a solid start from Kendrick (3-6), who had gone 2-11 in his previous 20 starts since last Aug. 11.
Kendrick allowed six hits and two runs with one walk and six strikeouts in seven innings.
Not since he beat Washington last July 11 and won at the New York Mets last July 19 had Kendrick won two straight starts. The right-hander was coming off a 7-3 victory last week against San Diego.
"I was able to get ahead most of the night," Kendrick said. "I was down and trying to pound the strike zone. I think that was the main thing. In the first inning, most of (the pitches) were down."
Atlanta has lost seven of 11 and 13 of 21.
Ervin Santana (5-4) continued to struggle, giving up eight hits and four runs — three earned — with three walks in six innings. Santana, who struck out five, is 1-4 with a 6.17 ERA in his last seven starts.
"It was a little better, yeah, but it was it tough battling out there," Santana said. "The pitch that Howard hit was a good pitch. Just one of those days."
The Phillies took a 2-0 lead in the first when Jimmy Rollins led off with a double and Howard hit his 13th homer. In 71 career games at Turner Field, Howard is hitting .277 with 20 homers and 69 RBIs.
Howard also homered in Monday's 6-1, 13-inning victory.
"You're just trying to find some real estate, trying to get a good pitch to hit," Howard said. "I was fortunate enough to do that. It landed on the other side of the fence and gave us an early lead."
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