PHILADELPHIA -- In case you have been living under a rock, Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee has been on a roll.
He has allowed only four earned runs in 64 2/3 innings in his last eight starts. His 0.56 ERA during that stretch is the lowest ERA by a pitcher over any eight-start span in one season in Phillies history and the lowest by a pitcher on any team since 2002, when Pedro Martinez had a 0.47 ERA for the Red Sox over eight starts from July 1-Aug. 10.
Lee narrowly missed a shutout on Thursday, when he allowed a two-out solo home run in the ninth inning of a 2-1 win over the Marlins. Ryan Howard walked off an inning later, though Lee was saddled with a no-decision.
Howard fighting lingering bursitis in Achilles
PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Howard made two things clear Friday at Citizens Bank Park:
First, if the Phillies and Braves were tied in the National League East standings he would be playing.
Second, the pain in his left ankle hasn't gone away.
While bursitis in his left Achilles bursae kept Howard from starting a 4-2 loss to the Cardinals on Friday, he made an impact in the ninth inning with a double to spark the Phillies' comeback. Howard was replaced by a pinch-runner after legging out the hit.
Howard has not started four of the last 10 games as Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has tried to get his top run producer enough rest to have him feeling as good as possible with the postseason just two weeks away. John Mayberry got the nod on Friday in Howard's spot.
"It's sore," Howard said. "There are days it's looser than others, and there are some days it's stiff. The one constant has been the soreness. I'm trying to get that out."
Howard said a cortisone injection remains a possibility, but that would not come until the Phillies clinch the division. That could happen as early as Friday, if the Phillies beat the Cardinals and the Mets beat the Braves.
Howard snapped an 0-for-16 slump Thursday, when he hit a walk-off double in the bottom of the 10th inning to beat the Marlins, 2-1. Howard said his recent struggles at the plate have not been related to the bursitis.
"It doesn't really affect me in my stance," he said. "It's more so just running, my motion sometimes. As far as being at the plate it doesn't affect that at all."
Howard played with a sprained left ankle late last season, but he said he is unsure if the current injury is related.
Phillies finding ways to win with bats scuffling
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies have scored three or fewer runs in each of their last eight games.
They are 4-4 in that span.
The Phillies are 30-40 (.429) when they scored three or fewer runs, which is easily the best record in baseball and a testament to the team's superb pitching. Here is a look at the top five records with three or fewer runs scored:
1. Phillies: 30-40 (.429).
2. Giants: 30-61 (.330).
3. Cardinals: 18-41 (.305).
4. Tigers: 18-42 (.300).
5. Nationals: 23-55 (.295).
Brown among several Phillies callups
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies recalled outfielder Domonic Brown and right-hander Justin DeFratus on Friday and selected the contracts of catcher Erik Kratz, left-hander Joe Savery and outfielder Brandon Moss from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
The club designated right-hander Drew Naylor and left-handers Mike Zagurski and Juan Perez for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
Brown hit .261 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 41 games for the Iron Pigs. DeFratus went 6-3 with a 2.99 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 75 1/3 innings between Double-A Reading and Lehigh Valley.
Kratz hit .288 with 15 homers and 53 RBIs in 103 games. Savery, who converted from a pitcher to a hitter and back to a pitcher, went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA. Moss hit .275 with 23 homers and 80 RBIs.
The Phillies also said Triple-A manager Ryne Sandberg will be in uniform for the big league club.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.