HOUSTON -- No one wants to jinx Ryan Howard by declaring he might be out of his slump -- least of all Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.
But some have dared to suggest it after back-to-back three-hit games for the Phillies slugger. Not Manuel, though.
"I'll let you guys say that," Manuel said of the media. "I just want to watch him and let him go."
It was hard not to wonder if Howard wasn't pulling out of it after Thursday night, when he had a single, double and home run to lift his average to .207. Even Manuel noticed a change in Howard, a .291 career hitter in the better part of three seasons with Philly.
"He's been more patient at the plate," Manuel said. "[Thursday] night, he was more patient every time except his last at-bat. He kind of got away from it then."
Howard won't get ahead of himself, looking to carry over Thursday's effort into Friday's game.
"I just want to come out and try to build on [Thursday night]," he said.
Jim Carley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.