PHILADELPHIA -- The writing appeared to be on the wall for Ryan Howard after the aging former MVP sat the bench for three straight games earlier this week.
But in two games since being reinserted into the lineup, the Phillies' first baseman has gone 3-for-8 with a homer, two RBIs, two runs scored and two walks.
The move to start Howard at first base Sunday came as a surprise with Arizona Diamondbacks starter Vidal Nuno, a lefty, on the mound. But Phillies skipper Ryne Sandberg wanted to give him a chance to play after his two-hit day Saturday.
"I wanted to see him after he swung the bat (Saturday) how he looked against the lefty," Sandberg said.
Before his last two contests, Howard was hitting just .171 with one homer over his previous 28 games. Still, his slugging percentage stands .385 and his OPS at .694, even after his two-run homer in Philadelphia's 4-2 over Arizona on Sunday.
Sandberg hopes the three-game hiatus lights a fire under the 34-year-old Howard, whom the Phillies still owe $60 million after this season.
"Hopefully these are a couple games he can build on and contribute," Sandberg said.
STREAK: Won one
NEXT: Phillies (RHP A.J. Burnett, 6-9, 3.86 ERA) at Mets (RHP Bartolo Colon, 9-8, 4.03 ERA)
--RHP A.J. Burnett (6-9, 3.86 ERA) will take the ball Monday when the Phillies start a three-game set in New York against the Mets. Burnett is coming off one of his best starts of the season, in which he tossed eight shutout innings and allowed just four hits in a no-decision Wednesday against the Giants. The 37-year-old threw a season-high 131 pitches in that one -- one shy of his career high -- so expect him to be somewhat limited in that capacity Monday. Burnett is 5-6 with a 3.55 ERA in 21 career starts against the Mets.
--RHP Roberto Hernandez turned in a gem for the win in Philadelphia's 4-2 victory Sunday over Arizona. The right-hander needed just 75 pitches to cruise through seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out one and walking none. Hernandez won two straight decisions for the first time since 2011, when he pitched under the name Fausto Carmona. Hernandez has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 10 of 11 starts at home this season. "He got ground balls when he needed them. He threw enough pitches around the zone and got some hitters to swing the bat," manager Ryne Sandberg said. Hernandez didn't walk a batter for the first time all season.
--1B Ryan Howard followed up his 2-for-5 performance Saturday with a homer and two runs scored in Sunday's 4-2 win over Arizona. Howard sat for three straight games before after hitting just .171 with one homer over his previous 28 contests before returning to the lineup Saturday. "I wanted to see him after he swung the bat (Saturday) how he looked against the lefty." The lefty was Vidal Nuno, who served up Howard's homer in the first inning. Howard has struggled against both lefties and righties this year, but 20 of his 62 RBIs have come against southpaws, which is tied for the most in the National League. "Hopefully these are a couple games he can build on and contribute," Sandberg said.
--RHP Ken Giles cruised through another outing Sunday in the Phillies' 4-2 win over the Diamondbacks. After punching out D-Backs SS Nick Ahmed to open the eighth, Giles walked pinch-hitter Nick Evans but got CF Ender Inciarte to ground into a double play to end the inning. The hard-throwing righty's ERA has shrunk to 0.98, but he's allowed just one run in his last 18 frames (0.50 ERA). Not only that, the 23-year-old is a strikeout machine with 12.8 K's per nine innings, his strikeout-to-walk ratio is 6.5 and he's surrendered only 11 hits in 18 1/3 career innings. Manager Ryne Sandberg said he's comfortable using Giles "really any spot in the game with the way he's throwing."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The catcher was camped with no room for Howard to come into home plate. Very fortunate. This year, that's a run. The last 100 years, it's not a run." -- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg on a controversial ruling in his team's favor in a 4-2 win over Arizona on Sunday.
--OF John Mayberry Jr. (left wrist inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 21. He received a cortisone shot on July 23.
--RHP Mike Adams (right rotator cuff inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 7, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 2. An MRI revealed fraying of the labrum but no rotator cuff damage. He got a cortisone shot in mid-June.
LHP Cole Hamels
RHP A.J. Burnett
LHP Cliff Lee
RHP Kyle Kendrick
RHP Roberto Hernandez
RHP Jonathan Papelbon (closer)
LHP Antonio Bastardo
LHP Jake Diekman
LHP Mario Hollands
RHP Justin De Fratus
RHP Ken Giles
RHP Phillippe Aumont
1B Ryan Howard
2B Chase Utley
SS Jimmy Rollins
3B Cory Asche
INF Andres Blanco
INF Reid Brignac
INF/OF Darin Ruf
LF Grady Sizemore
CF Ben Revere
RF Marlon Byrd
OF Domonic Brown
- Sports & Recreation
- Ryne Sandberg
- Ryan Howard
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Vidal Nuno