Brown homers twice as Phillies beat Red Sox

Domonic Brown slugs a solo shot in the fourth inning. He led off the eighth with another homer, which turned out to be the margin of victory over Boston.
Domonic Brown slugs a solo shot in the fourth inning. He led off the eighth with another homer, which turned out to be the margin of victory over Boston. (      ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff)
Posted: May 31, 2013

Domonic Brown's right foot smacked first base as the ball he destroyed disappeared beyond the right-field wall at Citizens Bank Park. He spread his arms and whacked his hands together in an emphatic motion. The fans rose in the eighth inning to celebrate the fourth Phillies home run in a 4-3 victory over Boston on Wednesday, the night a 25-year-old outfielder wooed an entire city.

"I'm not surprised by it at all," Ryan Howard said. "I know a lot of people are."

Brown rounded the diamond for the 10th time in May as the digital bell swayed to signal his dominance. The Phillies do not hit homers with runners on base - 30 of their last 32 are solo shots. But that was just fine against the Red Sox.

Two of the homers exploded from Brown's bat. Howard and Erik Kratz crushed the others. But this was Brown's night, in a month full of them, and the staunchest nonbelievers are turning. Long promised as an outfield cornerstone, Brown has arrived in 2013. He is tied for second in the National League in home runs.

He is the first Phillies player with 10 homers in a month since Howard bashed 11 in August 2009. He has five in five days and 13 in the season's first 53 games. That is a 40-homer pace. His .817 OPS leads the Phillies.

The Phillies needed every run to survive Wednesday. Jonathan Papelbon, pitching for the second straight night against his former team, allowed a run for the first time since April 3. But he induced a Daniel Nava dribbler to first base with the tying run 90 feet away. When Howard stepped on first, Papelbon swung his right fist in delight.

Brown's second homer provided the decisive run. Manager Charlie Manuel said Brown's performance will tell him when it is time to move Brown up in the batting order from sixth. That time could be nearing.

"In my first at-bat I swung at some bad pitches," Brown said. "I told myself not to do it the whole game. I got some good pitches to hit and I just happened to hit them hard."

In the eighth, he smoked a 1-1 splitter thrown by Koji Uehara, one of baseball's most underrated relievers. Brown worked a 2-1 count against John Lackey in the fourth and socked a fastball high and inside.

"The whole secret to hitting is get a good ball to hit," Manuel said.

Some of the loudest cheers came between innings. The Phillies showed a tribute video to Shane Victorino, set to a Bob Marley tune, in the middle of the fourth. Victorino, who is on the disabled list with Boston, stepped onto the field and waved to the fans.

The weather was ripe for shorts, a happy crowd, and deep flies. The Phillies hit four homers for the first time in 2013. Lackey was the victim of three in the first four innings. He allowed three home runs in his first seven starts.

Howard's shot snapped a 61-at-bat streak without a homer and it just cleared the left-field fence. That was the third-longest drought of his career. Lackey stood and watched in amazement that the ballpark swallowed his pitch.

Brown and Kratz delivered back-to-back homers for the second time in less than a week. They have powered the offense in recent days. Kratz has hits in nine of his last 10 games. Since Carlos Ruiz went out with a hamstring injury May 19, Kratz is hitting 9 for 27 with four homers.

But it is Brown who will command the attention.

"It's fun to watch," teammate Kevin Frandsen said. And Brown ensured victory with a swing Phillies fans have learned to cherish.


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @magelb.

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