The bad news would be if he had decided to sublet to Pat Burrell, but the early results are encouraging.

Ryan Howard had a miserable April, but April is over. Last night after driving in the Phils’ first run with an RBI-double in the third, Howard blasted a mammoth shot out to right in the bottom of the eighth that proved to be the game winner for the Phils.

The Phillies only scored three runs on the night, but thanks to a nice outing by Eaton and three hitless, shutout innings from the amazing Phillies bullpen, three was enough.

The Phillies beat the San Diego Padres last night, winning 3-2 to improve to 16-13 on the season. The Phils take the series two games to one. For the second time in seven games the Phils get a win in a game where they scored three runs, so a word of thanks to the pitching, and the bullpen especially, is in order. Last year the Phils were 4-16 in games when they scored three runs and 4-41 in games where they scored less than four runs. So far this year they’re 2-2 in games where they score three runs and 2-9 in games where they score less than four.

The Phillies start the day in first place in the NL East, a half game ahead of the Marlins and the Mets.

Eaton got the start for the Phillies against his former team and went six innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks. Just one of the hits went for extra-bases, a home run. He struck out two. Eaton was hit hard early but pitched better as the game went on.

Tad Iguchi singled to left with one out in the first and Adrian Gonzalez followed with a home run to right. 2-0. Eaton got the next two.

Jim Edmonds singled with one out in the second. Josh Bard smashed a line drive to third for the second out. Pitcher Randy Wolf hammered a ball to deep right, but Werth caught it with a jump on the warning track to end the frame.

Brian Giles started the third with a walk and Iguchi moved him to second with a single. Gonzalez hit a line drive to second that Utley caught and glove-hand flipped to second to double Giles off. Kevin Kouzmanoff followed with a single that sent Iguchi to second with two outs. Khalil Greene swung at a 3-2 pitch low and outside and lined to first on a nice jumping play by Howard to leave both runners stranded.

Edmonds walked with one out in the fourth and the game tied at 2-2, but Eaton got the next two.

Eaton threw a 1-2-3 fifth and a 1-2-3 sixth. Nice play by Bruntlett to take a hit away from Giles on a ball up the middle for the first out of the fifth.

Madson started the seventh and got the first two before lefty Paul McAnulty hit for Wolf. McAnulty walked on four pitches and Manuel called on Romero to pitch to the lefty Giles. Third straight day for Romero after throwing 23 pitches on Wednesday. He struck Giles out swinging at a 3-2 pitch.

Gordon pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.

Lidge started the ninth up 3-2 in his first appearance since Sunday. He got Greene on a fly ball to center, struck out pinch-hitter Tony Clark and got Edmonds on a ground ball to short to end the game.

Three scoreless innings, one walk for the bullpen. Madson threw 13 pitches, Romero seven, Gordon nine, Lidge 12. Phils should try hard to keep Romero out of tonight’s game. The pen allowed two runs in the three-game set, which came on a home run against Madson with the Phils up 7-2 in the ninth in game one of the series.

The Phillies’ lineup against lefty Randy Wolf went (1) Victorino (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Feliz (7) Bruntlett (8) Ruiz. Victorino gets the start in center. He should start again tonight with another lefty on the mound of the Giants and Jenkins, presumably, again on the bench. Ruiz catches Eaton.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the first.

Burrell singled with one out in the second. Feliz popped to short for the second out before Bruntlett moved Burrell to second with a single. Ruiz walked to load the bases, but Eaton struck out looking at a 2-2 pitch.

Victorino doubled to start the third, but Werth and Utley both struck out behind him. Howard doubled to left-center to score Victorino, getting the Phils on the board at 2-1. Burrell followed with another double and Howard scored. 2-2. Feliz flew to left for the third out.

Ruiz walked with one out in the fourth. Eaton tried to bunt him to second, but Bard took the bunt and threw to second to force Ruiz for the second out with Eaton safe at first. Victorino walked before Werth struck out again, ending the inning.

Utley singled to start the fifth, but Howard, Burrell and Feliz struck out behind him.

With two outs in the sixth Taguchi hit for Eaton and was robbed of yet another hit by a fantastic defensive play, this one by Greene at short. Taguchi has been victimized by a ton of great defense and he’s got a .205 batting average to prove it.

Victorino walked to start the seventh and was running on the pitch as Werth lined to center. Victorino couldn’t get back in time and was doubled-off. Utley struck out for the third out.

Howard led off the eighth and got ahead 2-0 before he hit a long home run to right, putting the Phils up 3-2. Burrell, Feliz and Bruntlett went down behind him.

Victorino was 1-for-2 with a double and two walks. He was 1-for-4 in the series and is hitting 235/316/294.

Werth was 0-for-4, struck out twice and left four men on base. 1-for-11 with a triple in the series and 0-for-his-last-7 with five strikeouts. 1-for-his-last-15 has him at 265/354/530 on the year.

Utley was 1-for-4 and struck out three times. 4-for-12 with a double and a home run in the series. 357/424/748.

Howard was 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and two RBI. 3-for-11 in the series and 184/303/388 on the year.

Burrell was 2-for-4 with a double. 2-for-10 in the series. 333/454/677.

Feliz was 0-for-4 and left three men on base. 2-for-11 with a double in the series. 200/255/347.

Bruntlett was 1-for-4 and struck out twice. 3-for-10 with two walks in the series. 228/282/278.

Ruiz 0-for-1 and walked twice. 2-for-5 with a big double in the series. 203/276/261.

Jenkins was 4-for-7 in the series. 265/307/349.

Taguchi was 0-for-1 in the series and is hitting 205/244/256 on the season.

Dobbs was 1-for-2 with a double in the series. 333/400/556.

Coste was 1-for-4 in the series. He’s hitting 350/435/600.

Kyle Kendrick (2-2, 5.15) faces lefty Patrick Misch (0-0, 3.00) tonight as the Phils play the first of three with San Francisco. Misch appeared in 18 games for the Giants last season, including four starts. Overall in ’07 he went 0-4 with a 4.24 ERA and a 1.46 ratio. Righties hit .316 against him and lefties just .238. He’s made just one appearance in ’08 for the Giants, which came in long relief against the Reds on Sunday. After Zito got bombed and exited after just three innings, Misch came on to toss six innings in which he allowed two runs on five hits and a walk. Kendrick’s numbers are pretty bad on the year and he’s actually pitched worse than his numbers look at first glance as seven of the 22 runs he’s allowed have been unearned. Lefties are hitting .356 against him after hitting .321 against him last year. He didn’t face the Giants last season.