Washington at Philadelphia

W: J. Blanton (9-12) L: C. Balester (3-7)
HR: WAS - K. Casto (2)   PHI - R. Howard (48)

Howard crushes 48th homer, helps Phils move closer to NL East title

CBSSports.com wire reports

PHILADELPHIA -- One mighty swing by Ryan Howard got the Philadelphia Phillies going again. One more win will have them partying.

Howard hit his major league-leading 48th homer, Joe Blanton pitched six effective innings and the Phillies moved closer to clinching the NL East title with an 8-4 victory over the Washington Nationals on Friday night.

The Phillies' magic number for winning their second straight division championship was reduced to one after the New York Mets lost 6-1 to the Florida Marlins.

"I like our position," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I'll like it better when we're up two with one to play. That's when I'll drink champagne, dance and sing."

Fans kept a close eye on the out-of-town scoreboard, cheering when the Marlins took a 2-0 lead in the first inning at Shea Stadium.

A few minutes later, Howard got them roaring when he connected to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead in the first. The sellout crowd screamed "MVP! MVP!" and waved their white-and-red "Fightin' Phils" towels in appreciation.

They went wild in the ninth after Manuel got into a heated argument with plate umpire Andy Fletcher and was ejected for arguing that Kory Casto had struck out. The Philly faithful gave Manuel a standing ovation and chanted his name.

"We knew what needed to be done and took care of our own business," Howard said. "We have everything in our own hands right now."

Chase Utley had a three-run double and Howard drove in four runs as Philadelphia built a 7-1 lead off Collin Balester (3-7).

The Nationals chipped away against Blanton (4-0), but four relievers combined to toss three scoreless innings.

The Phillies reached 90 wins for the 12th time in the franchise's 126-year history. They hadn't done it since winning 97 games in 1993.

Washington lost its 100th game, the first time the franchise has lost that many games since the Montreal Expos were 55-107 in 1976.

"A loss is a loss to me," manager Manny Acta said. "Once you lose over 90, it's one too many."

Blanton allowed four runs -- one earned -- and five hits. The right-hander was 5-12 with Oakland before joining the Phillies in a midseason trade.

Jayson Werth and Utley hit one-out singles in the first to bring up Howard. The 2006 NL MVP drove an 0-1 pitch into Philadelphia's bullpen in right-center.

Howard is batting .349 (29-for-83) with 11 homers and 32 of his major league-best 146 RBI this month. He has raised his overall average to .250 and is making a strong push to win his second MVP award in three years, though teammate Brad Lidge deserves serious consideration.

Lidge, who is 40-for-40 in save opportunities, was chosen the Phillies' most valuable player by the local chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

"His numbers prove he's very deserving," Manuel said when asked about Howard's chances. "His production speaks for itself."

The Phillies chased Balester with four, two-out runs in the second inning to take a 7-1 lead.

Greg Dobbs led off with a double. Jimmy Rollins walked with two outs and Werth reached on an infield single to load the bases. Utley missed a slam by a few feet, clearing the bases with a double off the left-field wall. Howard followed with an RBI double to left.

The Nationals scored a pair of unearned runs in the fifth after Howard booted Pete Orr's grounder with one out. Emilio Bonifacio had a sacrifice fly and Cristian Guzman singled in a run to cut it to 7-3.

Casto hit a solo homer in the sixth to get the Nationals within 7-4. Umpires used instant replay to make sure the ball cleared the right-field wall before it fell onto the field after a fan dropped it.

Balester allowed seven runs and seven hits in 1 2/3 innings.


  • Rollins set a career-high with his 47th stolen base. He has been caught just three times.
  • Howard's 32 RBI this month are a team record for September. Gary Matthews, now a broadcaster with the Phillies, had 31 RBI in September 1981.
  • Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman (flu) sat out his second consecutive game.
  • Howard leads all first basemen with 19 errors.
  • The Phillies are 9-4 in Blanton's 13 starts.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Ryan Howard is batting .349 with 11 homers and 32 RBI in September, making a push for NL MVP.  (AP)
Ryan Howard is batting .349 with 11 homers and 32 RBI in September, making a push for NL MVP. (AP)

Players of the Game

R. Howard
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1

C. Utley
AB 4
R 3
H 3
HR 0

Related Video

Washington Nationals
Emilio Bonifacio, 2B3011000 .245
Cristian Guzman, SS4021001 .314
Lastings Milledge, CF4000013 .268
Elijah Dukes, RF3100101 .268
Willie Harris, LF3000001 .251
   a- Aaron Boone, PH-1B1000001 .246
Kory Casto, 1B-LF4111011 .214
Luke Montz, C4011030 .118
Pete Orr, 3B2100001 .239
   b- Alberto Gonzalez, PH-3B2000010 .258
Collin Balester, P0000000 .200
    Jason Bergmann, P1000000 .000
   c- Roger Bernadina, PH1110000 .203
    Charlie Manning, P0000000 .000
    Garrett Mock, P0000000 .000
   d- Anderson Hernandez, PH1000010 .301
    Michael Hinckley, P0000000 .000
    Jesus Colome, P0000000 .000
a-grounded out for Harris in the 8th
b-struck out for Orr in the 7th
c-doubled for Bergmann in the 5th
d-struck out for Mock in the 7th
2B - Emilio Bonifacio (6, Blanton), Roger Bernadina (1, Blanton)
HR - Kory Casto (2, Blanton)
SF - Emilio Bonifacio (3)
RBI - Emilio Bonifacio (14), Cristian Guzman (55), Kory Casto (15), Luke Montz (2)
2-OUT RBI - Cristian Guzman (23), Kory Casto (8), Luke Montz (2)
Team LOB - 4
PB - Luke Montz (1)
Washington Nationals
Collin Balester (L,3-7) 1.2777111 5.51
Jason Bergmann 2.1100000 5.09
Charlie Manning 1100010 5.14
Garrett Mock 1000110 4.02
Michael Hinckley 0.2110110 0.00
Jesus Colome 1.1000220 4.31
Pitches-Strikes - Collin Balester 52-26, Jason Bergmann 29-20, Charlie Manning 14-10, Garrett Mock 13-7, Michael Hinckley 10-6, Jesus Colome 34-20
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jason Bergmann 3-4, Charlie Manning 2-0, Michael Hinckley 1-0
Batters Faced - Collin Balester 13, Jason Bergmann 8, Charlie Manning 4, Garrett Mock 4, Michael Hinckley 4, Jesus Colome 5
Philadelphia Phillies
Jimmy Rollins, SS2110300 .277
Jayson Werth, RF5220023 .271
Chase Utley, 2B4333001 .292
Ryan Howard, 1B4124021 .250
Pat Burrell, LF3000101 .249
    Eric Bruntlett, PR-LF0000000 .214
Shane Victorino, CF4010001 .290
Greg Dobbs, 3B3110001 .301
   a- Pedro Feliz, PH-3B1000001 .249
Carlos Ruiz, C3000101 .221
Joe Blanton, P2000011 .059
   b- Geoff Jenkins, PH1000000 .246
    Scott Eyre, P0000000 .000
    Ryan Madson, P0000000 .000
    J.C. Romero, P0000000 .000
   c- Matt Stairs, PH1000010 .251
    Brad Lidge, P0000000 .000
a-flied out for Dobbs in the 7th
b-popped out for Blanton in the 6th
c-struck out for Romero in the 8th
2B - Jimmy Rollins (37, Bergmann), Chase Utley (41, Balester), Ryan Howard (26, Balester), Shane Victorino (30, Manning), Greg Dobbs (14, Balester)
HR - Ryan Howard (48, Balester)
RBI - Chase Utley 3 (104), Ryan Howard 4 (146)
2-OUT RBI - Chase Utley 3 (34), Ryan Howard (56)
SB - Jimmy Rollins (47, 2nd base off Colome/Montz), Chase Utley (14, 2nd base off Hinckley/Montz), Shane Victorino 2 (36, 3rd base off Manning/Montz, 2nd base off Colome/Montz)
CS - Carlos Ruiz (2, 2nd base by Colome/Montz)
Team LOB - 6
PB - Carlos Ruiz (4)
E - Ryan Howard (19, Misplayed grounder)
Philadelphia Phillies
Joe Blanton (W,9-12) 6541121 4.69
Scott Eyre (H,8) 1000020 4.21
Ryan Madson 0.2100010 2.98
J.C. Romero 0.1000000 2.75
Brad Lidge 1000020 1.84
Pitches-Strikes - Joe Blanton 89-60, Scott Eyre 13-9, Ryan Madson 10-7, J.C. Romero 7-4, Brad Lidge 13-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joe Blanton 14-3, Scott Eyre 1-0, J.C. Romero 1-0, Brad Lidge 1-0
Batters Faced - Joe Blanton 25, Scott Eyre 3, Ryan Madson 3, J.C. Romero 1, Brad Lidge 3
Game Information
Attendance - 44145
Game Time - 2:48
Temperature - 67
Umpires - Home - Andy Fletcher, First Base - Bob Davidson, Second Base - Alfonso Marquez, Third Base - Mike Reilly