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Phillies' Howard fastest to 200 HRs

SLUGGER Ryan Howard became the fastest player to reach 200 career home runs, powering his red-hot Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-0 road win over the Florida Marlins on Thursday.

Howard steered a solo shot to right field in the sixth inning off Florida starter Chris Volstad to reach the 200-mark in just 658 games, 48 fewer than previous record-holder Ralph Kiner.

"It's a nice feat, it's a nice record to have," the 29-year-old told reporters. "I'll take it and run with it. We finished the first half (of the season) the way we wanted, it's important to get off to a good start in the second half."

Howard's 23rd home run of the season was one of three long balls for Philadelphia (49-38) as it cruised to its sixth straight win.

Elsewhere in the National League, it was: Cubs 6, Nationals 2; Brewers 9, Reds 6; Braves 5, Mets 3; Rockies 10, Padres 1; and Astros 3, Dodgers 0.

In the American League, it was: Angels 6, Athletics 2; and Indians 4, Mariners 1.

In Miami, Raul Ibanez led the charge for the Phillies with two home runs to support veteran left-hander Jamie Moyer, who allowed just one hit in seven innings.

Moyer (9-6) has thrived against the Marlins throughout his career, winning all eight of his road starts against them and enjoying a 13-2 record overall.

Ibanez, a teammate of Moyer's with the Seattle Mariners from 2004-06, delivered the goods in just his third game back from a groin injury that sidelined him for nearly a month.

He had a two-run blast in the second inning and a solo shot in the fourth, both off towering 6-feet 8 hurler Volstad, who fell to 6-9 after his six-inning effort.

Jorge Cantu had the lone hit for the Marlins (46-45), who lost their third in four games and fell five behind the World Series champions Phillies in the NL East.

Into the break

"Five games up is five games up, we still have three games to play here," Moyer said. "Today's nice to win the first game back and try to recreate some of the momentum that we took into the break."

The Phillies, who recently acquired veteran pitcher Pedro Martinez, have taken control of the division by winning 10 of their last 11 games and improving their major league-best road record to 27-15.

In Los Angeles, Manny Ramirez was little help for Los Angeles in his first home game since a 50-game doping ban, and neither were any other Dodgers batters as they were shut out by the Astros.

Ramirez went 1 for 4 with two strikeouts. He singled to lead off the eighth, but was out on a double play one batter later.

Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez struck out six in as many innings to win his fifth straight start.

In Oakland, California, the Los Angeles Angels opened a two-game gap atop the AL West standings with victory over the Athletics.

Ervin Santana ended a three-start losing streak, allowing only three hits in eight innings. He has a 10-1 career record against the A's.

Kendry Morales hit a two-run homer in the second inning to kickstart the Angels. That extended his career-best hitting streak to 16 games.

Chone Figgins added a two-run double in a four-run fourth and Mike Napoli had a double among his three hits.

In Cleveland, ace pitcher Cliff Lee won for the first time in more than a month, allowing just one run in his second complete game of the season to steer Cleveland past Seattle.

The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner had lost three straight starts. The Indians scored three runs or less in 11 of his 20 starts. He struck out six and did not issue a walk.

Grady Sizemore, batting leadoff for the first time in two months, had two hits and drove in a run for the Indians.


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