By Sam Bush
Ryan Howard is beginning to flash the power that led the Phils to a five-year run of NL East dominance but has been lacking since 2011.
He collected three hits in the first five games of the Phils’ current homestand. And last night he hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Phillies to a 6-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
Howard’s homer, his ninth of the year, with 34 RBIs, and the fifth walkoff shot of his career, came off reliever Boone Logan. It capped a four-run rally that was aided by two Colorado errors.
Asked what he might have found in his swing that enabled him to deliver the decisive blow, Howard said, “I found the ball. That’s about it. With swinging, sometimes you have to tinker with some things. Sometimes it just finds you.”
Jonathan Papelbon (1-1) picked up the victory by pitching a scoreless inning in relief.
“That was a tough one,” Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said, “maybe tougher than some of the others.”
The Rockies had taken a 3-2 lead on DJ LaMahieu’s solo homer in the eighth off reliever Jake Diekman.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Philadelphia left fielder Tony Gwynn Jr. reached on a throwing error by Colorado second baseman Josh Rutledge. Center fielder Ben Revere followed with a single.
Hawkins retired shortstop Jimmy Rollins on an at-bat extended when Tulowitzki dropped a foul pop. Logan replaced Hawkins and surrendered an RBI single to second baseman Chase Utley Howard then hit a 2-2 fastball into the center-field seats to win it.
Howard said he took his cue from Utley, who pulled a 3-0 pitch foul, deep down the right-field line and later lined his single on a 3-2 delivery from Logan.
“I was watching Chase’s (at-bat),” Howard said. “Just wanted to follow him up, trying to have a good (at-bat), not make the last out and get a good pitch to hit — either that or try to get on base and let (right fielder) Marlon (Byrd) get a crack at (Logan).”
The Rockies squandered a bases-loaded, no-out threat in the seventh. Phillies reliever Mike Adams, who came on after Antonio Bastardo walked three hitters, started a double play when pinch-hitter Carlos Gonzalez tapped a broken-bat roller back to the mound.
Adams then fanned Tulowitzki, the leading hitter in the major leagues, to end the threat.
Neither Gonzalez nor Tulowitzki started — Gonzalez after suffering a bruised right calf in Tuesday’s game and Tulowitzki because manager Walt Weiss elected to rest him.
Phillies starter Roberto Hernandez worked 5 2/3 innings and allowed two runs and six hits. He struck out five and walked four.
Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau led off the third with a homer, his 10th of the year and his fourth in 35 career at-bats against Hernandez. Catcher Wilin Rosario made it 2-0 when he doubled in a run later in the inning.