Howard plays hero with walk-off shot vs. Rockies
Slugger hits first game-winning HR since '10; Adams comes up big
PHILADELPHIA -- Before Ryan Howard vanished behind a set of double doors inside the Phillies' clubhouse late Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park, the first baseman spotted Mike Adams seated in front of his locker.
Howard quickly changed course and extended his hand to congratulate the reliever.
"Way to pick up Bastardo, bro," he said as Adams stood up to shake hands following a stirring 6-3 victory over the Rockies.
Howard hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning against Rockies left-hander Boone Logan to win the game. It was the fifth walk-off home run of Howard's career, and the first since he hit one July 9, 2010, against Reds left-hander Arthur Rhodes. The win gave the Phillies just their fourth series victory at home this season and improved them to 23-27, which puts them in a virtual tie with the Mets for fourth in the National League East.
The Phillies have a long way to go, but riding the emotions of a big victory, Howard spoke confidently despite nearly two months of inconsistent play by his team.
"It's just about doing it," Howard said. "We've talked about trying to build on games like this and that. Now it's about doing it. It's about going out there and executing. We have a chance to get ourselves back in this race. We're not out of the race, that's the crazy thing about it. For as hot and cold as we've been all year, we still have a shot. I believe this is a championship-caliber team. We just need to start going out and playing like it."
Howard celebrated with teammates at home plate after he crushed a 2-2 fastball to left-center field. Adams could only walk back to the dugout after his own game-winning moment. The right-hander worked out of a bases-loaded jam with nobody out in the seventh, created when left-hander Antonio Bastardo walked the first three batters he faced.
But Adams got pinch-hitter Carlos Gonzalez to bounce a ball back to the mound. Adams threw to the plate for the first out and Carlos Ruiz threw to first for the double play. Adams then struck out pinch-hitter Troy Tulowitzki swinging on a 0-2 curveball to end the inning.
"That was fun," Adams said. "In a situation like that, that was the most fun I've had in a while."
Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure gave Adams the option of walking Tulowitzki in that situation, but he never considered it.
"I'm not going to back down from anybody," Adams said. "I ain't scared. I don't care who you are. That's what this is about. It's competition. I feel I'm better than the person at the plate. I'm not going to back down from whoever it is."
Left-hander Jake Diekman allowed a solo home run to DJ LeMahieu in the eighth to hand the Rockies a 3-2 lead. Diekman has allowed four home runs in his last 17 appearances after allowing none in his previous 47.
Diekman has also struggled against right-handed hitters, who are hitting .290 with an .895 OPS against him. That's compared to left-handers, who are hitting .135 with a .351 OPS.
But the Phillies got a huge break in the ninth when Tony Gwynn Jr. bounced a ball to Rockies second baseman Josh Rutledge. It should have been the second out of the inning, but Rutledge threw high and Gwynn reached safely on an error. Ben Revere followed and laced a single to right to put runners on first and second with one out.
Jimmy Rollins lined out for the second out of the inning, and at that moment, Logan replaced right-hander LaTroy Hawkins with Chase Utley coming to the plate.
"I decided when the inning started that if it got to Utley, I was going to go get Boone," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Both he [Utley] and Howard crush righties. I felt that was our best matchup, to go get Boone. 'Hawk' did a great job. We should've been out of that inning, but it didn't happen."
Utley singled to right to score Gwynn and tie the game at 3. Howard followed and crushed the game-winning three-run home run to left-center field.
"I just knew I hit it in the gap, toward left-center," Howard said. "I really didn't care if it was out or not, I just knew once I hit it that it was going to be a base hit and the game would be over. I didn't really see where it landed. I just knew the trajectory was toward the gap."