In the bottom of the eighth inning, Ryan Howard stepped to the plate and absolutely hammered a Joe Thatcher pitch into the deep right field stands, giving a lucky Manhattanite a nice souvenir and the Phillies the lead, which they would hold. The win: 3-2.
Howard also struck an RBI double to left field in the third inning, scoring Shane Victorino, who also doubled. After Howard, Burrell doubled, scoring Howard.
Yes, now we can say Ryan Howard is back. He’s been striking the ball much better lately, and hasn’t struck out as frequently (he did strike out last night, but let’s be optimistic). His arrival is key – if Chase Utley can remain consistent and Burrell can remain warm, this lineup is potent as hell.
Howard’s homer gave Tom Gordon the victory. He pitched the eighth as the bullpen shut it down again. Brad Lidge had a masterful save. JC Romero finished a seventh inning started by Ryan Madson. Adam Eaton went six innings, surrendering a two-run Adrian Gonzalez homer in the first inning and trudging/skating through the others for a line of 6 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 2 K. He didn’t quite match the start by former Phillie Randy Wolf, who struck out nine in six frames.
Oh yeah, with the win the Phils are 16-13 and, yup, are all alone in first place in the National League East. Last year it took them 160 games. This year: 29.
Associated Press photo