The Phillies regained a half-game lead in the tightly contested wild-card race with Tuesday’s 10-2 victory over the Giants. Houston was shut out 2-0 by San Diego on Thursday. There are five teams within two games of the wild-card lead.
Howard sat out the previous three games, all against left-handed pitchers, but the left-handed hitter made an immediate impact as the Phillies bounced back a night after being shut down 5-0 in the series opener.
“Howard is impressive,” Giants manager Felipe Alou said. “He moves well around the bag. He’s a David Ortiz-type man.”
Philadelphia will continue a key 12-game road trip with a three-game series in Arizona starting Friday. The Phillies will then face the New York Mets and Washington Nationals, both in the wild-card hunt, before heading home.
Despite their dismal record, the Giants remain only seven games behind first-place San Diego in the lowly NL West. While it still appears unlikely that injured slugger Barry Bonds will return this year, San Francisco hasn’t given up hope on winning the division. The Giants have won five of their last nine games.