PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Aaron Rowand is hoping a big hit in a clutch situation is all he needs to turn his season around.
“When I came here, my goal was to help this team in any way I can,” Rowand said. “I’ve been able to play pretty good defense, but haven’t done much at the plate. I’m just trying to fight my way through it. Hopefully, this will help turn things around for me.”
The Phillies, who have won two in a row for the first time since June 18-19, have beaten San Diego 11 straight times dating to 2004.
Eric Young went 2-for-5 with two RBIs for San Diego, which has lost three straight.
Rowand has captured the hearts of Phillies fans with his aggressive style of playing defense in center field this season. The play that secured his fan-favorite status came on May 11 when he crashed into the wall to make a catch with the bases loaded in a 2-0 win against the New York Mets.
Rowand broke his nose and suffered non-displacement fractures around his left eye on the play, requiring a stint on the 15-day disabled list. Since returning, Rowand is batting .226 (26-for-115) in 31 games, lowering his season average to .267.
“Everyone goes through tough periods at the plate during the course of the season,” Rowand said. “When I came off the DL, I was hitting balls hard, but they were right at people. You try to do more and you swing yourself into a bigger funk.”
Rowand produced one of his biggest hits of the season in the ninth.
Howard led off the inning with a single off reliever Cla Meredith (1-1) and moved to second on Pat Burrell’s swinging bunt that catcher Rob Bowen turned into the first out. Rowand sliced a 2-2 pitch down the right-field line and into the corner, allowing Howard to score easily.
“Aaron really needed it, he’s been scuffling,” Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. “He’s been overswinging too much lately. On the hit, he stayed back real nice, used his hands and went with the pitch.”
“We just couldn’t get one more hit to get us over the hump,” San Diego manager Bruce Bochy said.
The Padres led 2-0 before Philadelphia pushed across five runs in the fourth. Howard hit a two-run single, advanced to third on Pat Burrell’s base hit and scored when Rowand reached on an error by shortstop Khalil Greene.
One batter later, Carlos Ruiz, who was recalled from Triple-A Scranton before the game, connected for his first major league home run—a two-run shot into the left-field seats.
Young hit a two-run single in the seventh, and Piazza and Adrian Gonzalez each drove in a run for San Diego.
Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels, who had lost his previous four starts, didn’t return after a rain delay in the second inning. He allowed one run and one hit in two innings. He also walked two and struck out two.
Hamels said he was surprised he wasn’t allowed to go back out after the rain delay. Philadelphia used an all-bullpen effort in Sunday’s win against Toronto.
“I kept my arm warm by throwing every 10-15 minutes, but I didn’t get the chance to go back in,” Hamels said. “That was (the coaching staff’s) call.”
Manuel said the length of the rain delay was the determining factor why Hamels didn’t return. The grounds crew had some problems covering the field during the gusty thunderstorm, and the wet field took a while to be prepared after the rain delay.
“If the field hadn’t gotten so wet, he might have gotten back out there a lot sooner,” Manuel said. “We’re being cautious with him.”
The 22-year-old Hamels is one of Philadelphia’s top prospects and has had injury problems in the past.
Hensley allowed five runs—three earned—and seven hits over six innings. He struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter.
But Hensley couldn’t prevent another Padres setback to the Phillies.
“We haven’t played well against them,” Bochy said. “We have to do something about that. We have a tough time with them, we know it.”
The game was delayed one hour by rain in the second. … Phillies 2B Chase Utley had three hits and extended his hitting streak to 10 games. … San Diego C Josh Bard had a pinch-hit single in the seventh inning, and has nine hits in his last 17 at-bats (.529). … The Phillies have surrendered 22 first-inning runs in their last 22 games.