Ryan Howard started a rehab assignment in Lakewood Wednesday and it started on a good note. The former BlueClaws’ first baseman was 2-for-3 with a three-run homerun and an RBI double. Howard’s bat helped the BlueClaws to a 7-4 Lakewood win.
Rehabbing a strained quad, Howard played his first of two games with the BlueClaws this week before he rejoins the Phillies Friday in Atlanta.
Howard’s seventh inning homerun was his 20th as a BlueClaw, putting him second on the team’s all-time homerun list. Juan Richardson is the Lakewood career leader with 22 homeruns. Howard’s four RBI moved him into a tie on the team’s all-time list with 91 RBI. Howard is tied for the RBI lead with Randy Ruiz.
Darren Byrd pitched into the 7th inning and allowed just one earned run. Garet Hill threw 1.2 innings and improved to 3-1 on the season. Ronald Hill got his 8th save of the season. Jason Donald and Howard each had RBI doubles in the 3rd inning which tied the game at two. Howard's homerun gave Lakewood a 6-3 lead, and P.J. Antoniato added an RBI single in the 7th.
The BlueClaws are now 23-20 on the season and are in the midst of a season-high four game win streak, including winning the first three games of the four-game series.
Howard will continue his rehab on Thursday at 6:35 p.m. in the final game of the four-game series. RHP Edgar Garcia (1-2, 3.60) opposes RHP Don Levinski (0-1, 18.90).
Meanwhile, playing without injured slugger Ryan Howard seems to have finally caught up to the Phillies.
Over the past five games, the Phillies have mustered 17 runs, and their bats have gone silent for long stretches. They tallied five hits in a loss Thursday to Milwaukee, three in a win Friday night against Toronto and four in Saturday night's loss to the Blue Jays.
In the opener of a three-game series Tuesday at Florida, they notched three runs on two homers by reserve right fielder Jayson Werth and got little else in a 5-3 loss.
"We're a different team when Howard's in the lineup, even when he's not hitting," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Just his presence, it picks us up offensively."
Until Howard returns Friday, the Phillies say they need to keep swinging.
"We're all looking forward to getting the big guy back, but we need to go out and play with the 25 guys we've got right now," center fielder Aaron Rowand said. "He's just an added piece, albeit he's a pretty big piece."
Notes From Philly:
Aaron Rowand blamed himself for Tuesday night's loss. Rowand said he knew the ball was carrying well at Dolphin Stadium, yet he played medium depth on a flyball hit by Miguel Cabrera in the Marlins' four-run sixth inning. The ball soared over Rowand's head and to the wall, allowing Hanley Ramirez to score. Cabrera slid into third base with a triple, and he scored when 2B Chase Utley's relay throw went awry. "Knowing the ball was carrying, I should've taken a deeper route to the ball," Rowand said. "I didn't, and the ball kept carrying. I feel like it was my fault we lost the game. Not Cole's. Not anybody else's."
Jayson Werth had started only one game for the Phillies since May 2 at Atlanta. During that time, he'd gotten only eight at-bats. Given a rare opportunity Tuesday night in right field, Werth blasted two home runs. His solo shot in the first inning was his first homer since Aug. 29, 2005, for the Dodgers. He added a two-run shot in the third. "In order for him to help us, he's got to get some at-bats," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Ryan Madson was activated from the disabled list, as expected, after being sidelined the past two weeks with a strained muscle in his left side. The move doesn't come a moment too soon for manager Charlie Manuel, who said he'll use Madson between the sixth and eighth innings as a setup man for closer Brett Myers.
Madson said he has made a mechanical adjustment.