Howard homers as Phillies sweep Cincinnati
“Everybody’s playing well,” Howard said. “Atlanta’s playing well. Milwaukee’s playing well. The way I see it, we need to keep our foot on the gas and not let up.”
Michael Martinez(notes) added a two-run homer as the Phillies (87-46) moved 41 games over .500 for the first time since Aug. 26, 1976, when they improved to 83-42 with a win at Cincinnati. It was Philadelphia’s first four-game sweep at Cincinnati since May 13-16, 1916.
Manager Charlie Manuel is as greedy as Howard.
“Keep winning games,” he said when asked his goal as the season moved into September. “I’d like to see us win a lot of games—run off a good streak where we could play a lot of those (bench) guys. We can win some more. We definitely want to win the division and have the best record.”
Philadelphia won seven of eight games against the Reds this season to improve to 30-12 against them over the last six seasons.
Howard hit a solo shot to left-center on a 3-1 pitch from Mike Leake(notes) in the sixth, giving Philadelphia a 4-1 lead and extending his streak of consecutive seasons with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs to six.
“It’s cool,” Howard said. “It’s not easy. It’s great to be able to do that.”
“What really hurt us was that two-run home run by Martinez,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Worley (10-1) allowed four runs and eight hits, struck out seven and walked one. The first six of his Ks came on called third strikes, most of them on sinkers, he said.
The Phillies improved to 15-2 in Worley’s 17 starts this season and have won each of his last 13, their longest streak since they won a club-record 15 consecutive Steve Carlton starts in 1972.
Worley was cruising before the Reds opened their seventh with three consecutive hits. Drew Stubbs(notes) doubled and Ryan Hanigan(notes) singled before pinch-hitter Chris Heisey(notes) hit an opposite-field drive to right to get Cincinnati within two.
Worley said he was a little off following Philadelphia’s lengthy top of the seventh.
“I went up in the tunnel and threw,” he said. “There’s a little screen there. I thought I could go out and be fine, but I left some balls up in the zone.”
Heisey was activated from the disabled list before the game. He had been out since Aug. 7 with a strained left oblique.
“We got close with a big home run by Heisey,” Baker said. “I think it is the first opposite-field home run of his career. We missed Heisey big time.”
It could have been worse for the Reds but center fielder Stubbs cut down Schneider at the plate when he tried to score on Worley’s bouncer up the middle.
The Reds snapped their streak of consecutive scoreless innings at 21 in the bottom half. Brandon Phillips(notes) doubled to left, advanced to third on Edgar Renteria’s(notes) groundout to shortstop and scored on Joey Votto’s(notes) sacrifice fly to center.
Leake (11-9) gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked one.
“I was falling behind,” he said. “I wasn’t attacking hitters like I did the rest of the game. The only ball hit hard was the one by Pence. Then I just tried to keep the ball down, out of the hitting zone.”
NOTES: The Reds promoted INFs Juan Francisco(notes) and Chris Valaika(notes), RHPs Jared Burton and Carlos Fisher(notes), LHPs Jeremy Horst(notes) and Matt Maloney(notes) and C Devin Mesoraco(notes) from Triple-A Louisville before the game. OF Fred Lewis(notes) cleared waivers and was outrighted to Louisville. … The Reds left after the game for their second consecutive 10-day, nine-game road trip, starting with three in St. Louis. NL ERA-leader Johnny Cueto(notes), coming off a career-high 11-strikeout performance on Sunday, is Cincinnati’s scheduled starter on Friday. … The Phillies headed to Florida for a three-game series with the Marlins. RHP Roy Oswalt(notes), a 6-5 loser to Florida last Friday, is scheduled to start for Philadelphia.