One day after hitting an historic home run against the Cincinnati Reds, Ryan Howard tries to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a series victory when the teams meet in Thursday’s finale at Citizens Bank Park.
Howard hit his 100th career homer in his 325th game on Wednesday, becoming the fastest player to reach that total. Ralph Kiner had held the mark, reaching 100 homers in 385 games for Pittsburgh in the late 1940s.
“He has all the power in the world,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Howard. “He definitely smoked that ball. The fact he has so many homers in that short period of time shows the kind of ability he has.”
Howard’s 505-foot shot was also the longest in the four-year history of Citizens Bank Park, but it wasn’t enough for a win as the Phillies (40-37) fell 9-6 to Cincinnati. The reigning NL MVP has 18 homers this season, including one in each of his three games against the Reds (30-48).
He is a .344 career hitter versus Cincinnati with nine homers, including seven in his last seven games. He is also batting .382 (13-for-34) with four homers and 13 RBIs over his last eight games overall, with at least one hit in each contest.
Howard’s three-run homer gave the Phillies a 3-0 lead in the fifth, but the Reds scored all of their runs over the final three innings, including six in the seventh. Javier Valentin hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth inning and Adam Dunn added a two-run homer in the ninth for the Reds, who snapped a three-game losing streak and won for only the fourth time in 13 contests.
David Weathers got the final six outs, pitching on both sides of a rain delay, to earn his 15th save in 17 chances.
“It’s his eighth save of more than one inning,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said. “He’s like Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage.”
Cincinnati will hand the ball to Matt Belisle (5-5, 4.73 ERA) as it tries to salvage four wins on its nine-game road trip. The right-hander is 4-1 with a 3.91 ERA in seven road starts, compared with a 1-4 record and 5.51 ERA in eight home outings.
He held Oakland to two runs - one earned - and four hits over six innings on June 20, but didn’t record a decision in the 5-3 defeat.
Belisle, who hasn’t won since May 29, is 0-1 with a 7.11 ERA in four career games, including one start, versus the Phillies. Belisle gave up four runs over five innings in a 9-3 defeat to Philadelphia on April 22.
He will be opposed by Adam Eaton (7-5, 5.63), who is trying to bounce back from a shaky start. The right-hander gave up six runs and eight hits, including two homers, over 5 1-3 innings in an 8-3 defeat to St. Louis on Saturday.
“He made some mistakes and got hurt,” Manuel said. “Crooked numbers will hurt you. He usually pitches good games.”
Eaton has pitched well against the Reds, going 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA in four career starts, but hasn’t faced them since 2004.
Ken Griffey Jr. is 3-for-4 with two homers versus Eaton.