Monster blast isn't enough Howard's homer fails to lift Phils

Posted: June 28, 2007

Ryan Howard tried, but even he couldn't save the Phillies from their bullpen last night at Citizens Bank Park.

He crushed a majestic 505-foot home run over the brick wall in center field and onto Ashburn Alley in the fifth inning to hand the Phillies a three-run lead against the Cincinnati Reds.

Howard became the fastest player in baseball history to reach 100 home runs, but the porous Phillies bullpen faltered again in a 9-6 loss that dropped the Phillies 3 1/2 games behind the New York Mets in the National League East.

"I think one of the biggest things that shows up is that we don't give up one, two or three runs," manager Charlie Manuel said when asked about his bullpen. "We give up five, six, seven, eight. I think that's what's showing up. In the seventh inning there, even if they take the lead at 4-3, we've still got plenty of time to win the game."

The seventh inning, when the Reds scored six runs, proved disastrous.

The eighth inning proved just as disappointing.

Phillies lefthander Jamie Moyer had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings and had extended his scoreless streak to 16 innings before he found trouble in the seventh.

He allowed a leadoff single to Jeff Conine and walked Adam Dunn and Edwin Encarnacion to load the bases with no outs. Geoff Geary took over and faced five batters before Manuel pulled him, but not until after a 3-0 lead had turned into a 4-3 deficit. Geary allowed three hits, one walk (intentional) and recorded one out. Since May 11, he has an 8.53 ERA and has allowed seven of 14 inherited runners to score.

Lefthander Mike Zagurski, who replaced Geary, allowed two more runs to score to make it 6-3. Zagurski has allowed six of 13 inherited runners to score this season.

But the Phillies scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie it at 6-6.

Again, the bullpen couldn't stop the last-place Reds.

Brian Sanches (1-1) hit Encarnacion on an 0-2 splitter to put the leadoff runner aboard, and it cost him. Encarnacion moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Javier Valentin's double to right off Ryan Madson.

"Unfortunately, Moyer's outing was ruined," Sanches said. "It's tough to lose a game like that. Our job is to come in and put out the fire. . . . My out pitch is the split, so I went with it. I felt good with it, but it slipped out of my hand. That's the last thing I wanted to do right there. To have him 0-2, he's right where I want him."

The Phillies had a 3-0 lead entering the seventh, and it looked for a moment like they would be able to celebrate Howard's historic homer.

It not only was the longest homer in the ballpark's history, it made Howard the fastest player to reach 100 homers. He accomplished the feat in just 325 games. He surpassed Ralph Kiner, who needed 385 games to hit 100 homers.

"It's cool, you know?" Howard said. "To hit it and do it in that fashion is a fun thing. The way the game was going early, that was a big situation. . . . It's always good to be part of history.

"I didn't feel much off the bat. I hit it pretty good on the sweet spot and it jumped. The one thing I remember is it was loud off the bat. I didn't know it would go that far. I was shocked when I saw it clear the eye."

The "batter's eye" is the tall brick wall in center.

"It shows you the type of hitter that he is," Chase Utley said of the homer. "He's learned pretty quickly up here. He's done a good job so far. He's got a lot of power."

But his power - and the rest of the offense - could not save the Phillies last night. Once again, their pitching failed them.

Contact staff writer Todd Zolecki at 215-854-4874 or tzolecki@phillynews.com.

Read his blot at http://go.philly.com/zozone.

505

Howard's longest drive

* Ryan Howard's three-run homer in the fifth inning last night traveled 505 feet to center field, the Phillies said.

* It is the longest home run in Citizens Bank Park history, surpassing the 496-foot shot Howard hit against Florida on April 23, 2006.

* Last night's home run was the 100th of Howard's career. He reached the milestone in 325 games, the fastest pace to 100 homers in major-league history.

Reds9

Phillies6

Next: Reds (Belisle, 5-5) at Phillies (Eaton, 7-5), tonight at 7:05.

TV/Radio: CSN; WPHT-AM 1210.

* See a slide show from the game at http://go.philly.

com/photos.

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