So when the reporters crowded around Victorino's locker following the Philadelphia Phillies' 12-2 victory against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night, Jimmy Rollins interrupted by mocking his teammate in a singsong voice.
"Anything I can do, Ryan can do better. I hit a double; he hit an RBI double," Rollins sang. "I hit a home run; he hit two. I get a base hit; he hit a bommmmmb!"
The fun was back for the high-octane Phillies, who had scored only one run in the first two games of the series. The overdue rampage included four home runs: Pedro Feliz to the left field bullpen, Victorino inside the left foul pole, and the two from Howard to right-center -- including the first to land in the second deck of bleachers at the new Nationals Park.
Howard went 3-for-5 and drove in four runs with a double and his 11th and 12th home runs. Victorino and Feliz had three hits each as the Phillies piled up 15 hits and a season high in runs. The highlight was an eight-run sixth inning in which 13 players batted.
"It's huge after the first two games, where we kind of got off to a slow start with hits and runs, to be able to come out and explode the way we did," said Howard, whose average had dropped to .183 after going 0-for-7 in the first two games. "Hopefully, we can carry it over to our next trip."
Jamie Moyer (4-3) took the easy victory by throwing six scoreless innings, thanks in large part to an inept Nationals offense that kept failing with runners in scoring position. Washington was on the way to getting shut out for the second successive night until two meaningless runs in the seventh off reliever Clay Condrey, who nevertheless was credited with his first save for three innings of work.
Matt Chico (0-6), getting a fill-in start for Shawn Hill (sore elbow), had been pitching well since his recent demotion to the bullpen, but he did little to make a case for returning to the starting rotation. He allowed Howard's RBI double in the first, Feliz's home run in the second and home runs to Victorino and Howard in the fifth. His ERA grew to 6.19.
"The pitch that kind of sucked the energy out of us was that 0-2 breaking ball that he hung to Howard," manager Manny Acta said.
At least Chico was pulled from the game in time to avoid the ugly sixth, when reliever Jesus Colome pitched to seven batters and retired one. The wildest play came when Victorino singled to right with the bases loaded. Outfielder Elijah Dukes' throw went off first baseman Dmitri Young's glove and into the camera well next to the Phillies dugout. The error was charged to Young, and it allowed two runs to score.
Two batters later, Howard deposited the first pitch from Chris Schroder into the bleachers. Two more hits and a walk followed before the sarcastic applause from the home fans greeted a strikeout by Moyer -- the 13th batter of the inning.
The Nationals, meanwhile, put on their own hitting clinic: a perfect how-not-to-do-this video. They had men on first and third with no outs in the second and fourth innings and failed to score both times. In the third, there was a man on second with no outs -- with the same fruitless result.
Dukes, in particular, had a terrible night. He twice struck out with men on first and third and was booed back to the dugout both times. He got his own sarcastic cheer when he singled to center to lead off the seventh. He later hit into a double play and ended the game with a batting average of .067, the worst among an outfield corps that is hovering near .200 as a group.
When asked how his team can perform better with runners in scoring position, Acta gave a stern answer directed obviously at Dukes.
"How about put the bat on the ball?" Acta said. "Instead of striking out with a guy on third and less than two outs."
Dukes, through a team spokesman, declined to speak to reporters after the game.
- Howard had his 13th career multihomer game.
- Philadelphia's eight extra-base hits are a season high.
- Moyer made his Nationals Park debut, the 46th major league ballpark for the 45-year-old pitcher. He tied teammate Rudy Seanez for most among active pitchers.
- The Nationals started an outfield (Lastings Milledge, Wily Mo Pena, Dukes) that has combined for one home run all season.
- Washington has lost five of six at home and six straight against left-handed starters.
- As poorly as the Nationals played, the most embarrassing moment came in the eighth when third baseman Feliz misjudged a popup off the bat of Jesus Flores. Flores, incredibly, was awarded a hit.