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Braves fall on Howard home run
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ATLANTA--Ryan Howard rallied the Philadelphia Phillies back into first place, hitting a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning for his fourth hit in an 8-7 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.

Brad Lidge escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth and Philadelphia moved a half-game in front of the fading New York Mets, who lost 1-0 at Washington.

After trailing the Mets by 3« games going into last Thursday, Philadelphia leads the division for the first time since Aug. 26.

The Phillies led this one 3-0 and 4-3 before the Braves took a 7-4 advantage with a four-run sixth.

Howard had a run-scoring triple as the Phillies scored twice in the seventh.

Lidge walked Chipper Jones to open the ninth, then walked Casey Kotchman and Jeff Francoeur to load the bases with two outs.

But the All-Star closer struck out Gregor Blanco, making him perfect in 37 save chances during his first season with Philadelphia.

The Phillies improved to 71-0 when leading after eight innings. They are 7-0 at Turner Field this year and 11-2 overall against the Braves.

Julian Tavarez walked Jayson Werth with two outs in the eighth.

Braves manager Bobby Cox brought in Mike Gonzalez (0-3), who gave up Howard’s opposite-field homer to left. It was Gonzalez’s second blown save in 13 chances.

Making a late push for NL MVP despite a .249 batting average, Howard leads the majors with 45 homers and 136 RBIs.

He was 4-for-5 with three RBIs.

Ryan Madson (4-2) had three strikeouts in two perfect innings.

Jamie Moyer gave up six hits and six runs in 5 Ã innings. He walked four batters, including back-to-back walks to Brent Lillibridge and Greg Norton to load the bases in the Braves’ big sixth inning.

Josh Anderson tied the game with a groundout. Kelly Johnson’s pinch-hit single off Chad Durbin drove in two runs to extend his career-best hitting streak to 14 games.

Brian McCann added a run-scoring single off Scott Eyre for a 7-4 lead.Carlos Ruiz hit a homer off Braves rookie James Parr, who gave up 10 hits and four runs in 4 innings.

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