Known for his home runs, Ryan Howard might have settled for a mere groundball.
Instead, the Phillies slugger hit a two-run single off tough lefty reliever Sean Marshall in the seventh inning and Philadelphia rallied past the Chicago Cubs 4-3 Sunday.
Howard went 3 for 3 and drove in three runs, Roy Oswalt recovered from a rocky first to pitch seven solid innings and the Phillies won for the fifth time in seven games.
The Phillies trailed by a run and had runners on second and third with no outs when Howard came up in the seventh. The lefty star muscled a 2-1 slider into center field.
“I just wanted to hit something to the right side of the field and at the very least get the run home,” Howard said. “It was a slider away. I was out in front of it a little bit and I was able to hook it back up the middle.”
Howard anticipated sliders from Marshall and delivered a hit that might have been kept in the infield by a conventional defense. But the ball found a seam between overshifted shortstop Starlin Castro, who was playing behind second, and second baseman Darwin Barney, who was playing toward first and on the outfield grass.
“You have those hits where you hit the ball hard into the shift and you have those kind of balls you'll definitely take,” Howard said. “At times they even out every once in a while.”
Said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel: “That's what happens when you put the ball in play. Making contact is the big thing.”
Marshall has been used in four of the last five games. Manager Mike Quade had Kerry Wood warming up, but went to Marshall because of a blister that Wood said has been bothering him.
“He's had a nice year and we've really leaned on him,” Quade said of Marshall.
Winless in his last six starts entering Sunday, Oswalt pitched at least seven innings for just the second time in 12 starts this season.
The right-hander left the game trailing. After Marshall (3-1) hit Shane Victorino to open the inning, Utley doubled to right, bringing up Howard.
Manuel was ejected in the sixth inning by home plate umpire Alan Porter for arguing balls and strikes after Oswalt was called out on strikes. It was Manuel's second ejection of the season. He was in the dugout when tossed and came out for an animated conversation with Porter and second-base umpire Gary Cederstrom.
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