MORTON GROVE, Ill. (AP)—One day after tying Mike Schmidt’s single-season Philadelphia Phillies record for home runs, Ryan Howard will try to make the mark his alone when the Phils continue their three-game series with the Washington Nationals at RFK Stadium on Wednesday.
Howard hit his 48th homer, tying Schmidt’s mark set in 1980—the year of the Phillies’ only World Series title—and finished with three RBIs as Philadelphia won 10-6 on Tuesday.
Yet another big game from Howard helped the Phillies keep pace in the tight battle for the wild card. Philadelphia trails wild-card leader San Diego by half-game and is tied with Cincinnati.
“It means a lot, but in my eyes I’ve still got a lot of work to do to even get on that type of level,” Howard said of matching Philadelphia’s Hall of Fame third baseman. “Right now as far as the single-season home run thing, it’s an honor and it’s a cool thing to be a part of.”
Howard, who leads the majors in homers and RBIs (125), helped the Phillies avoid a third consecutive loss. His 13 homers in August broke Schmidt’s record of 12 in 1975.
“Ryan Howard, I don’t have to tell you guys, he’s special, man,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He’s tremendous. The only thing he’s got to do is do the same thing he’s been doing every day for the four years I’ve seen him, and he’ll keep on getting better.”
Howard’s 125 RBIs are tied for 18th in team history. Only Jim Thome and Greg Luzinski have had more in a single season over the last 50 years.
Thome had 131 in 2003 and Luzinski had 130 in 1977. With 31 games remaining, Howard should easily surpass both those totals.
Chuck Klein holds the club record with 170 RBIs in 1930.
Cole Hamels (6-7, 4.79 ERA) looks to bounce back from the worst start of his young career when he starts for Philadelphia on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old rookie gave up nine runs—five earned—in two innings of an 11-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.
“They basically hit every single pitch I threw out there,” Hamels said. “I wasn’t getting first-pitch strikes, and then when I would, I was throwing it up in the zone.”
Hamels had won his two previous starts, allowing two runs in 14 innings. The second of those victories was an 11-2 win against Washington on Aug. 19. He had a two-run single in that game, giving him two of his three RBIs this season.
The left-hander is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two starts against Washington this season.
The Nationals (55-76) have lost three straight and eight of nine.
Ramon Ortiz (9-11, 5.38) looks for his first victory in four starts when he takes the mound Wednesday. He is 0-2 with a 15.09 ERA in his last three outings, and hasn’t lasted longer than five innings in any of those starts.
Ortiz gave up four runs in five innings against Atlanta on Friday, not earning a decision in Washington’s 7-6 win.
He had allowed 15 runs in 6 1-3 innings in his previous two games, one of which was the Aug. 19 loss to the Phillies in which Hamels was the winning pitcher. Ortiz allowed eight runs in just 1 2-3 innings of that start, his shortest outing of the season.
“He didn’t miss any bats tonight,” Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. “He was frustrated I guess. I have no control at what he’s doing.”
Ortiz is 1-1 with a 14.85 ERA in two career starts against Philadelphia.