MIAMI - Maybe it's a start.

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard went 2 for 4 with a double, a walk and two RBIs in yesterday's 6-4 loss to the Florida Marlins at Dolphin Stadium. Howard had not had an extra-base hit or an RBI until he knocked in two runs with a double to right field in the first inning.

Is it enough of a reason to be encouraged?

"Definitely," said Howard, who had just one hit in his previous 17 at-bats before he doubled. "You go through a rough patch and you're able to get a couple hits and get on the board with some RBIs. Right now, just keep working. Just jump back and get into those situations again."

The reigning National League MVP is hitting .217 (5 for 23) with no homers and two RBIs. He has struck out seven times and is 1 for 11 (.091) with runners in scoring position.

Roster moves

The Phillies optioned rookie righthanders

Zack Segovia

and

Joe Bisenius

to triple-A Ottawa after yesterday's game to make room for righthanders

Jon Lieber

and

Francisco Rosario

.

Lieber, who had been on the disabled list with a strained right abdominal muscle, and Rosario, acquired Thursday in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, will be in uniform for today's series opener against the Mets in New York.

In his big-league debut yesterday, Segovia allowed eight hits, five runs, one walk and a home run in five innings. He struck out two. In two appearances, Bisenius allowed two hits and two walks in two scoreless innings. He struck out three.

"You never know," said Segovia, asked whether he expected to make one start for the Phillies before a return to the minors. "I was just thinking about trying to get the Marlins out today."

Extra bases

Marlins lefthander

Scott Olsen

snapped a three-game losing streak against the Phillies. He allowed three runs in five innings. He is 2-4 with a 5.51 ERA in seven starts against the Phillies. . . . Florida's Hanley Ramirez left the game in the first inning with a stiff right hamstring. . . . The Marlins beat the Phillies in a series for the first time since May 23-25, 2005, in Miami.

- Todd Zolecki