Howard homered twice and drove in five runs, Lee won his eighth straight start and Philadelphia beat the New York Mets 6-2 on Monday.
Lee (5-0) did not allow an earned run in seven innings, lowering his ERA with the Phillies to 0.68 in five outings since he was acquired in a July 29 trade with Cleveland. His record is 12-9 overall.
"He makes us real good," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We've got some top-notch left-handed pitchers. I kind of like that. Definitely the best rotation that we've had since I've been here.''
One day after second baseman Eric Bruntlett became the second major leaguer to end a game with an unassisted triple play, the Phillies beat their injury-riddled rivals in more conventional fashion.
Lee, last year's AL Cy Young Award winner, yielded six hits and no walks against a light-hitting lineup that featured Fernando Tatis (six homers) in the cleanup spot. The left-hander struck out five.
"Whenever he's on the bump, you feel pretty confident,'' Howard said.
Lee became the first pitcher to win his first five starts with the team since Marty Bystrom in September 1980, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau.
"It was already an unbelievable team before I got here. That's made it easy for me,'' Lee said. "It's been a pretty smooth transition.''
Ryan Howard had a three-run homer in the first inning. With Shane Victorino and Chase Utley on base, Howard drove a 2-2 delivery to the oppostie field. The home run also pushed Howard past 100 RBIs, giving him four straight seasons with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs. The only other Phillies player to accomplish that was Hall of Famer Chuck Klein from 1929-32. Howard added a two-run drive of Bobby Parnell in the third for his 21st career multi-homer game and fourth this season.
"I told him one of these days if he ever gets strong, he's going to be a pretty good hitter,'' Charlie Manuel said, joking.
Philadelphia took the final three in a four-game series and won for the 11th time in 13 games overall. The Phils now lead the NL East by seven games over idle Atlanta and they're 40-21 on the road, the best mark in the majors. They have won 14 of their last 20 away from home.
The fourth-place Mets received more bad injury news. Johan Santana was scratched from Tuesday night's scheduled start in Florida because of discomfort in his pitching elbow. The ace left-hander will be examined Tuesday by the team's medical director. Right fielder Jeff Francoeur, the team's most productive hitter of late, sat out with a torn ligament in his left thumb. New York said he is day-to-day.