For some reason, Ryan Howard can’t hit at PNC Park. Entering tonight’s game, the slugger batted .167 there. His average may not have raised much, but he provided the biggest, and most important hit of the night.
Chase Utley’s solo home run in the first inning immediately put the Phillies on the board. The Phillies have homered in the first inning in four consecutive games. It was awhile before another run would cross the plate.
Cole Hamels finally put together a solid outing. He pitched eight shutout innings, but did allow many base runners. He allowed seven hits, walked two, and hit a batter. He managed to escaped the jams without problems. Paul Maholm pitched just as well. In seven innings, he gave up one run on five hits. He walked two, struck out four, and was able to get the Phillies to ground out eleven times.
With a 1-0 lead in the top of the ninth, the Phillies would have liked to add on. With runners on second and third and nobody out, the Pirates wiggled out of a potential big inning. Joel Hanrahan struck out Ben Francisco and Pedro Feliz. He intentionally walked pinch hitter Raul Ibanez to get to a slumping Matt Stairs. Stairs was ahead 3-0, but Hanrahan fought back, getting Stairs to ground out.
Brad Lidge received the day off since he pitched in four straight games. Ryan Madson took over, and struck out Steve Pearce to start the inning, topping at 99 mph. A sign of relief? Not so much. The next batter, Brandon Moss, homered to center field, tying the game at one. For the second day in a row, the Phillies blew a save to the Pirates.
Unlike Lidge, Madson was able to keep the game tied and give the bats, which were silent all night, a chance in the tenth.
Jimmy Rollins walked and Shane Victorino singled. With Rollins at third, Utley hit a fly ball to center, deep enough for Rollins to score. Holding up at third, Rollins didn’t take a chance. On the very first pitch to Ryan Howard, Rollins trotted home. Howard hit a towering drive to right field; a three-run go-ahead home run.
Madson came back out for the bottom of the tenth. He allowed a lead-off single, but Chase Utley ended the game by turning a fantastic double play on a ball that deflected off the mound.
The game moved along quickly as Maholm and Hamels took part in a pitchers’ duel. But it was Ryan Howard who provided the difference in the Phillies 4-1 win over the Pirates.