NEW YORK – Ryan Howard started the day on the bench, but he ended it as a big difference-maker in the Phillies’ 5-1 win over the New York Mets on Sunday afternoon.
Howard’s two-run, pinch-hit double in the top of the seventh snapped a 1-1 tie and helped give Cole Hamels his first win of the season.
The Phillies swept the three-game series by a combined score of 18-5. They are 12-14 heading into Monday’s off day.
Starting pitching report
Hamels (1-3) had an unusual start. His stuff was good enough to produce eight strikeouts in six innings, but he matched a career-high with six walks. Hamels has now walked 17 batters in 37 2/3 innings over six starts. He did not walk his 17th batter until his 12th start last season.
Despite the walks, Hamels got important outs when he needed them. He struck out the opposing pitcher, Jonathon Niese, to end the fourth with the bases loaded.
Niese suffered the loss. He was charged with three runs, only two of which were earned.
Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon combined on three scoreless innings for the Phillies.
Scott Atchison gave up run-scoring hits to Howard and Chase Utley in the seventh.
At the plate
Howard did not start against the lefty Niese. Howard is 1 for 15 with seven strikeouts lifetime against Niese. But Howard came off the bench and made a huge contribution with a two-run, pinch-hit double in the top of the seventh. Howard’s double came with two outs and broke a 1-1 tie. Chase Utley then singled Howard home.
The three-run rally started with a two-out pinch-hit single by Laynce Nix, who is 7 for 13 as a pinch-hitter this season. Nix was given life in the at-bat when catcher John Buck was charged with a two-out error after dropping a foul pop up near the Phillies’ dugout. Jimmy Rollins followed with a single on a nine-pitch at-bat to keep the inning going and set the table for Howard.
Phillies pinch-hitters are 13 for 44 with 13 RBIs this season.
Howard is hitting .351 (13 for 37) with three doubles, two homers and 11 RBIs in his last 10 games.
In the field
Buck’s error on Nix’ foul pop in the seventh was a huge break that the Phils were able to cash in on.
Mets’ third baseman David Wright made an error in the first inning, ending a 77-game errorless streak.
Carlos Ruiz was back in the lineup after serving a 25-game suspension (see story). He had a double.
The Phils are off on Monday. They open a two-game interleague series in Cleveland on Tuesday night.
Tuesday night – RH Roy Halladay (2-2, 5.08) vs. RH Zach McAllister (1-3, 3.50)
Wednesday night – LH Cliff Lee (2-1, 3.03) pitches for the Phillies. The Indians have not named a starter.