SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—The kid is already being compared to David Ortiz.
“Howard is impressive,” Giants manager Felipe Alou said. “He moves well around the bag. He’s a David Ortiz-type man.”
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Howard sat out the team’s 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 out to regain their half-game lead in the NL wild-card race.
Howard, 25, doesn’t seem fazed by the pressure of being one of baseball’s up-and-coming sluggers—or the comparisons to Ortiz, Boston’s slugger—and often throws out quirky quips such as his “peace, love and hair grease” comment Tuesday.
He certainly enjoyed his first game at pitcher friendly SBC Park, missing the cycle by a triple.
“After today, I love it,” he said of the stadium. “This would be the park to hit it, go after that 421.”
Vicente Padilla (7-11) looked dominant much of the night, going eight innings in winning his second straight game following a four-start winless stretch. He drove in a run with a bloop single in the Phillies’ four-run seventh. Padilla allowed three hits, struck out three and didn’t walk a batter as Philadelphia improved to 4-1 against the Giants this season.
After Randy Winn’s leadoff double in the first, Padilla retired 15 of the next 16 batters and didn’t allow another hit until Todd Linden’s pinch-hit double to start the sixth. Omar Vizquel hit an RBI double two batters later.
Brett Tomko’s winless stretch reached five starts and the struggling right-hander threw a tantrum in the dugout when Deivi Cruz pinch hit for him in the third. Tomko took a swing at a bucket of sunflower seeds and knocked it over.
“I was just mad, not at anything in particular,” he said. “It’s been a rough season. … I should be able to get people out. There are no excuses. I didn’t get the job done. I threw every pitch I had and they hit all of them. Howard’s a great hitter. He proved it in Double-A and Triple-A (and briefly in the majors) last year with 48 homers.”
Tomko lasted only three innings, giving way to Jeff Fassero after allowing five earned runs and eight hits. Tomko (7-14), the Giants’ best pitcher in the second half last season, hasn’t won since beating Florida 8-5 on July 22.
It was Tomko’s shortest start since he went 2 2-3 innings in the biggest shutout loss in San Francisco history, a 16-0 defeat to the Oakland Athletics on June 26 that led to his brief demotion to the bullpen.
“Tomko had a tough time,” Alou said. “They hit him pretty good. We put a left-hander in to stop the bleeding. They’re a tough offensive team against righty pitching.”
After doubling in a run in the second, Howard hit his ninth homer of the season an inning later. He added an RBI single in the seventh and singled again in the eighth. Pat Burrell drove in two runs, Chase Utley had an RBI triple and Kenny Lofton had two hits for the Phillies, who are on a season-long 14-day, 12-game road trip that takes them through three time zones.
The Phillies finished with 16 hits.
“Some days you score and some days you don’t,” Lofton said. “That’s what we need to be doing.”
Philadelphia tagged Tomko for three straight hits to start the second, including doubles by Burrell and Howard and David Bell’s RBI single that made it 2-0. Lofton led off the next inning with a double and came home on Utley’s triple to right-center. Burrell hit a sacrifice fly two batters later.
Winn’s double moved him within one hit of 1,000 for his career. The Giants, who had won five of their last eight games, managed little else offensively.
San Francisco lost the season series to the Phillies for the first time in 15 years, since losing eight of 12 in 1990. Philadelphia swept the Giants from May 31-June 2 at Citizens Bank Park.
Giants owner Peter Magowan defended the club’s decision to give up the right to void the final year of Barry Bonds’ contract, though Magowan has mixed feelings about the move now. Bonds hasn’t played following three operations on his right knee since Jan. 31, and it’s unclear whether he will be able to return at all this year. “If we’d known he wasn’t going to play a game this year, would we have done it? Obviously not,” Magowan said. … San Francisco 2B Ray Durham collided with RF Michael Tucker in foul territory on Jimmy Rollins’ popup in the second. Both players fell, but stayed in the game. Rollins hit an RBI double in the ninth, giving every Phillies starter a hit. He also stole his 27th and 28th bases, his third multisteal game this year.