Howard's grand slam lifts Phillies to critical win vs. Braves
ATLANTA (Ticker) --
began Wednesday's game on the bench. He effectively ended it rounding the bases in grand fashion.
Howard blasted an opposite-field grand slam off
in the top of the 10th inning to lift the
to a critical 10-6 victory over the
The 25-year-old Howard was not in the starting lineup Wednesday as the Phillies were facing lefthander
. The rookie was just 6-for-50 with no homers and three RBI in his career against southpaws.
Howard entered in the eighth as a pinch hitter and delivered a single, but it was his final swing of the game that proved to be the difference.
drew a leadoff walk in the 10th from rookie
followed with a double. After
was walked intentionally to load the bases, Davies rebounded to get pinch hitter
to ground into a forceout at the plate.
With Howard looming, Braves manager
called upon Foster, who had held lefthanded hitters to a .212 average. However, Foster promptly fell behind Howard, 2-0, before the slugger crushed the next offering over the left field wall for his 19th homer - tops among all NL rookies.
"With a 2-0 count, I was looking for a fastball," Howard said. "It was a situation where you wanted to have a good at-bat, put the ball in play and get the run home."
"He hadn't had that much success off lefties," Phillies starter
said. "He laid off two good pitches. A lot of young guys would swing at those. He waited for his pitch and got it."
The win drew Philadelphia (81-71) within five games of Atlanta in the National League East Division. The Phillies, who have not qualified for the playoffs since 1993, sit two games behind Houston in the wild card race with 10 games remaining.
"We had to play a long time to win it," Philadelphia manager
said. "Howard has hit some big (homers) in some big situations."
Howard's second career grand slam made a winner of
(2-1), who worked a scoreless ninth against the middle of the Atlanta lineup.
After issuing a one-out walk to
, the righthander settled down to strike out MVP candidate
, who had homered twice and walked in three plate appearances against him this season. Geary induced
to ground out to end the threat.
"It was a situation where you needed to put up a zero," Geary said. "I was fired up. My past two outings, (
) hit a homer and he hit his 50th (of the season) and 300th (of his career). Tonight, I made two quality pitches that were sliders that set up the fastball away. There was no 51 today."
struck out two in a perfect 10th to close out the Phillies' seventh win in 10 games.
went 3-for-6 with two RBI to extend his career-best hitting streak to 26 games - the longest run in the NL this season and the longest by a Phillie since
's 26-game streak in 1930.
stole his 44th base of the season and the 187th of his career in the fifth inning, passing
for the most in Atlanta's history.
hit a two-run homer in the fourth and LaRoche added a three-run shot in the seventh for the Braves, who have dropped four of their last six games against Philadelphia.
"That's not the kind of ball you want to be playing going into the postseason," LaRoche said. "The whole team has to step it up or we're not going to have a chance in the postseason."