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Lefties Howard, Brown power up against southpaws


CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown did their best Sunday to further disrupt traffic on the part of U.S. 19 that runs by Bright House Field.

Both left-handed sluggers deposited a home run well over the right-field fence and beyond the confines of the part in the Phillies' 13-5 win over the Blue Jays, showcasing the kind of power that could make them both very dangerous if it carries into the regular season.

Even more encouraging: Their monster blasts came off left-handed pitchers, with Brown taking Toronto's Aaron Loup deep and Howard crushing a 1-0 pitch from Brett Cecil.

"That's a good sign. They've been throwing a lot of left-handers at us, which they always do and they always will," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Those guys, they've got big power."

Sunday was Howard's ninth straight start, and he'll be back in the lineup Monday against the Pirates. Manuel has been running out the former National League MVP every day to get him back in baseball shape, and it's working. Howard's hitting .417 with three homers, three doubles and 10 RBIs in 24 at-bats.

"He's swinging pretty good," Manuel said. "I think his legs are starting to get under him, starting to get over the soreness, working on getting in shape."

And Manuel is just as happy with Brown, the up-and-down prospect who's looking to stick in the Majors this year. Manuel has spoken often about Brown's more patient approach and the way he's slowed down his mechanics, stayed in a "strong hitting position" and avoided trying to muscle every ball with just his upper body.

"As we've talked about, he's got to get more consistent. So far this spring, he's really looked good, and his swing looks real good," Manuel said. "He's got good balance at the plate. He's catching good angles with his bat out front. That's when he hits the ball to the right side of the diamond, things like that. He looks real good right now."

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