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Published: Wednesday, 3/17/2010

Phillies rough up Verlander, Tigers


CLEARWATER, Fla. - Ryan Howard hit his first home run of the spring and highly touted Domonic Brown connected twice, leading Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies over the Detroit Tigers 6-1 yesterday.

Hamels held the Tigers to an unearned run and two hits in five innings. He struck out four and walked none.

Howard launched a two-run drive off Justin Verlander. Brown also connected against the Tigers ace and finished 3 for 3 with a walk and four RBIs.

"I'm kind of speechless," Brown said. "I'm just trying to go out there and play hard and let the rest take care of itself."

"When you have a good at-bat against an ace, that does good things for you," Howard said of Brown's home run off Verlander. "I think he's going to start to see that he can play at this level."

Brown, considered among baseball's best prospects, was reassigned to the minor league camp after the game.

"He hit his way right out of here," manager Charlie Manuel said with a smile.

The 22-year-old outfielder played at three levels last year and finished the season in Double-A.

"I thought I was going down last week, so this all is a plus for me," Brown said.

Brown, who has played just 37 games above Class A, will most likely start the season at Double-A Reading.

Howard said he had a similar experience as a 23-year-old in 2003, when he hit a home run off Andy Pettitte in a spring training "B" game.

"I remember it was a cutter away, the first pitch," Howard said. "Facing someone who is established in the big leagues, I think it kind of tells you where you're at."

With the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth, Brown legged out an infield single to knock in his fourth run of the day.

Brown's big day wasn't the only encouraging development for the defending National League champions.

Hamels, who struggled to find consistency throughout the 2009 season, used his revamped repertoire to lower his spring ERA to 1.69.

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