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PHILADELPHIA — Ryan Howard is still struggling when youre at bat, but Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg is no longer speaking about the possibility of a platoon at first base.

Howard was benched for three straight video games July 23-25, when Sandberg said he or she wanted to see what Darin Ruf may do. Since then, general manager Diane Amaro Jr. has said he is expecting Howard to be the clubs first baseman in 2015, and Howard has started eight of the last 10 activities, including Tuesday night in opposition to Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel.

Howard entered the game 1-for-25 having one RBI over his final seven starts. But he showed signs of breaking from that slump with a solo home run to left-center in his initially at-bat on Tuesday night and then a walk-off sole in the 15th inning as the Phillies picked up, 2-1.

Sandberg said before the game he had not been considering removing Howard from the cleanup spot. That decision worked to the Phillies advantage on Mondy.

People forget what Ive done, Howard said after the win. Ryno has played the game. He knows. He knows the ups and downs of the sport and he knows youre going to have got good days and terrible days. For me, Im only going to go out there and also grind it out. Im going to reach balls that are unfortunately gonna go into the shift and tennis balls back up the middle that fellas are going to make plays with. All you can try to do is hit it hard and ideally hit it where they are not.

What happened to the notion of a platoon in the beginning base between Howard and Ruf?

Well, I didnt say it was going to be a platoon, I said it was going to be a probability somewhere down the road, Sandberg explained. I want the best for both players and for Ryan Howard to get going as well as for Darin Ruf to get at-bats. Its a little bit of a task, but looking to help the participants.

While the general manager has publicly supported Howard, Sandberg said the front business office has not mandated him to keep baseballs highest paid player in the lineup.

No, the reason for the rest ended up being for him to regroup and make some adjustments, that he continues to search for and still takes care of, Sandberg said. So hopefully he or she gets it going.

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