Phils slugger Ryan Howard celebrates with catcher Carlos Ruiz after hitting a solo homer in the 4th inning. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
The late inning offense has officially arrived for the 2011 campaign.
Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez twice came through in the clutch for the Phils as they combined for four RBIs in the Phils 5-4 win.
It was the third time in four games the Phillies offense surged to take a late lead in the final nine outs of the game.
With the Phillies trailing 2-0 in the 4th, Howard and Ibanez hit back-to-back solo home runs to tie the game. They added another run in the inning after Carlos Ruiz doubled and Domonic Brown drove him in on a single.
But the important rally came in the top of the 7th. After Placido Polanco singled, left-hander Sean Burnett entered to face the three Phillies’ lefties. His first opponent, Chase Utley, drew an important walk. Howard then followed up with a seeing-eye single that found the outfield and scored Polanco to tie the game at 4-4.
Utley did what he does best on the base paths and went first-to-third to get himself in prime scoring position with one out. The very next batter, Ibanez, drove him in on a sacrifice fly and the Phillies were up 5-4.
The Nationals nearly tied the game back up in the bottom half. Roy Halladay allowed a lead-off double to Alex Cora and a bunt single to Ian Desmond to put runners on the corners with no outs. But the a huge base-running gaff by Cora killed any scoring threat.
Batter Rick Ankiel hit a come-backer to Halladay. The right-hander knocked the ball down and it threw off Cora, who was trapped in between the bases and run-down by Carlos Ruiz for the first out. Doc retired the next two and ended the scoring threat.
It was the final inning of Halladay’s night. He went seven innings but threw a lot of pitches in the mid-90’s heat. He allowed four runs on 10 hits while striking out four in the win. Three of Halladay’s 10 hits were solo home runs.
Howard finished the day 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs. Ibanez was 1-for-2 with a homer and pair of RBIs as well as two walks. John Mayberry and Ruiz each added two hits.
Nationals starter Livan Hernandez was effective in his own boring way. Taking his sweet old time on the hill like he usually does, Hernandez went 6 1/3, allowing four runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out four. He was charged with the tying run but not the losing run that was surrendered by Burnett.
2B: Mayberry (5), Ruiz (7). HR: Howard (12), Ibanez (8).
WP: Halladay (7-3). LP: Burnett (0-2). S: Madson (12).