Howard’s teammates hope to follow his lead as the Phillies try to avoid a season-high fourth straight home loss Tuesday night in a matchup with the Florida Marlins.
Philadelphia (24-19) returned home Monday from an 8-2 road trip during which it averaged 6.5 runs and hit .288 with 18 homers. On the road, the Phillies lead the majors with 5.69 runs per game and a 16-6 record, but their performance at home has been quite different.
They’ve failed to record more than six hits in six straight games at Citizens Bank Park while being held to 17 runs. The Phillies are 8-13 at home while batting .238.
This three-game series began Monday night with Florida winning 5-3 despite Howard hitting two homers, doubling his total from his first 20 home games. He had gone 10 straight games in Philadelphia without homering, a stretch during which he had only one RBI.
He’s still batting just .225 at home this season, but that’s far from the worst among the Phillies. Jimmy Rollins(notes) is hitting .213 there, Shane Victorino(notes) is at .211 and Jayson Werth(notes) .188.
Howard, Rollins and Raul Ibanez(notes), coming off an 0-for-3 night after hitting .364 (8 for 22) with four homers in his previous five games, are a combined 2 for 27 against Andrew Miller(notes), who starts Tuesday for Florida (21-25).
Miller (1-1, 4.94 ERA) is coming off one of the best starts of his career and it came Thursday on his 24th birthday. While tying career highs by lasting seven innings and striking out nine, he gave up two runs and four hits against Arizona, but Florida’s bullpen blew a one-run lead in the 4-3 loss.
“He was terrific, and I hope this is a stepping block,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “I can’t wait to see him in his next start.”
Miller is 0-5 with a 9.73 ERA in 10 road games since winning at Seattle on June 16. The left-hander is 0-1 with a 4.35 ERA in seven games - three starts - against the Phillies.
Philadelphia counters with Joe Blanton(notes) (2-3, 7.11). He’s 0-2 with an 8.87 ERA in four home starts after going 3-0 with a 3.48 ERA in eight outings in Philadelphia last year, including a Game 4 win in the World Series.
Blanton got a win Thursday as the Phillies beat Cincinnati 12-5 even though he failed to pitch past the fifth inning and allowed at least five runs for the fourth time in eight starts.
Opposing batters are hitting .308 against Blanton, whose only two career outings against Florida came in September and he won both despite a 5.40 ERA.
The Marlins are looking to win three straight for the first time since April 28-30 and might not feel too pessimistic about their chances even if trailing in the ninth inning.
Philadelphia’s Brad Lidge(notes) has blown his last two save chances and four this season after going 48-for-48 last year including playoffs. Manager Charlie Manuel said Monday he plans to stick with Lidge as the closer even though he has an 11.70 ERA in his last 11 appearances.
“I want Lidge to feel like we’ve got all the confidence in the world in him, because I do,” Manuel said. “People are going to voice their opinions and everything like that. Sit him and all that stuff. What’s sitting going to do for him? Sooner or later, he’s got to go out there and pitch and get somebody out.”