Howard, Rollins lead Phils' 12-4 rout of Pirates

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Seven Phillies players are on the disabled list, and the offense was badly underperforming during a slump that was becoming worrisome even to their manager.

This should help.

Ryan Howard picked up Philadelphia's struggling lineup by driving in three runs, Jimmy Rollins homered among his three hits and the Phillies shook off a three-game losing streak to rout the Pittsburgh Pirates 12-4 on Saturday night.

Shane Victorino also had three hits, including a triple, and shortstop Bobby Crosby's error on a seemingly routine double-play grounder led to a breakout five-run third inning — as many runs as Philadelphia scored in its previous three games.

Kyle Kendrick (5-3) gave up prized rookie Pedro Alvarez's first career homer and Ryan Church's solo shot among 10 Pirates hits, but still pitched his first major league complete game, throwing 114 pitches. Kendrick is 4-0 in four career starts against Pittsburgh.

Philadelphia had 15 hits, and every player in the lineup got one — including Kendrick, who doubled and scored.

"That's the one thing about this team, we don't panic," Howard said. "Every day is a new day. We know that what's happening or what's going on right now, we know that's not going to last the entire season. We're trying to go into the All-Star break and finish strong and then try to come out on fire the second half."

The Phillies, currently without injured regulars Chase Utley, Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz, had dropped five of seven to fall five games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East, causing manager Charlie Manuel to say his defending NL champions were facing a major test.

Pirates left-hander Paul Maholm (5-7) normally is tough on them, too — he was 1-0 with a 0.78 ERA in his last three starts against Philadelphia — only to allow eight runs, all but one earned, and 10 hits in three-plus innings.

"He was flat," manager John Russell said. "He couldn't get the ball down and we didn't help him defensively, by (not) turning the double play. He couldn't settle in."

Victorino, rested Friday during a lethargic 2-0 loss, followed Rollins' leadoff single with a triple — his NL-best eighth triple but only his fifth extra-base hit in 73 at-bats. Howard, previously 2 for 17 with six strikeouts against Maholm, singled in another run to make it 2-0. That's as many runs as Philadelphia scored in the first two games of the series.

"It made all the difference in the world," Manuel said of getting the leadoff hitter on base in each of the first five innings. "The key to the game is (get) on base all night ... and we got some extra-base hits."

Rollins walked and Victorino singled to start the third, and the game began getting away from the Pirates — trying for their first four-game winning streak in nearly 11 months — when Crosby bobbled Jayson Werth's grounder to load the bases.

The Phillies went on to send 11 batters to the plate in the inning against Maholm. Howard followed with a two-run single, delighting the thousands of red-shirted Phillies fans who sometimes drowned out Pirates rooters in their own ballpark. Ben Francisco, the newly recalled Cody Ransom and Dane Sardinha added run-scoring hits.

Ransom, one of three Phillies position-player starters who began the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, had two hits in his first game for Philadelphia. Rollins and Francisco also homered as the Phillies scored at least 12 runs for the fourth time in 21 games despite the recent slump.

Alvarez, who had 25 strikeouts in his first 54 at-bats, went to the opposite field in left for his first homer and also had a single.

"I'm starting to get more comfortable," he said. "I think I'm starting to calm down, but I've still got a long way to go."

NOTES: The Pirates have lost 20 of 26 despite winning four of their previous five. They haven't won four in a row since a five-game run from Aug. 17-22 last season. ... 1B-OF Steve Pearce's rehabilitation assignment ended at Triple-A Indianapolis, but he is not ready to rejoin the Pirates because of left knee tendinitis. ... Pirates 2B Neil Walker returned after being out a week with a concussion. ... Maholm gave up as many earned runs (four) in the third as Pirates starters did in the previous six games.