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Cameron Maybin had four hits, scored three times and drove in a run, and Jorge Cantu drove in three runs. The Marlins have won six of the last seven against the Phillies.
Howard's 44th homer accounted for the Phillies' only runs. He connected in the first inning and leads the majors with 140 RBIs. Joe Blanton (12-8) was shaky for the second straight outing, allowing five runs and nine hits in six-plus innings.
Philadelphia is racing the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in NL and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The loss meant the Dodgers would clinch it with a win Friday night.
Jimmy Rollins, Raul Ibanez and Pedro Feliz all received the night off for Philadelphia. Manager Charlie Manuel continued resting his regulars, with Howard, Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino also expected to sit at some point this weekend.
VandenHurk (3-2) gave up two runs on five hits. Three Florida relievers combined for three scoreless innings.
Cantu's two-run single in the first gave the Marlins a 2-0 lead. He added a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Florida made it 4-2 in the second on RBI doubles by Chris Coghlan and Maybin.
NOTES: Philadelphia reliever J.C. Romero indicated he might not pitch again in 2009 during a pregame interview. ... The Phillies sold out Citizens Bank Park for the 40th consecutive game and 70th overall. ... Maybin is eight for his last 14 in three games. ... The Marlins have won six of the last seven at Philadelphia.