Howard Keeps Phillies in Wild Card Race

Saturday, September 9th 2006, 9:55 am
By: News On 6

Ryan Howard hit his 55th and 56th home runs, and Jamie Moyer pitched eight sharp innings to help the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Florida Mariners 3-2 Friday night.

Scott Olsen gave up both of Howard's homers, and now the Phillies have won the first two games in a four-game series between the NL wild-card contenders.

``We've talked about not letting him beat us,'' Marlins manager Joe Girardi said. ``Ollie made some mistakes to one guy. He's one guy in the league right now you can't afford to make mistakes to. All I'm going to say is we didn't execute the way we were supposed to.''

The victory moved the Phillies within 1 1/2 games of the wild-card leading San Diego Padres. Florida is 3 1/2 games back.

Howard hit a two-run drive in the sixth and a solo shot in the eighth for his seventh multihomer game this season. The first homer came on a 2-0 count with the Marlins leading 1-0, and the second came with one out.

Both times rookie Olsen threw Howard a fastball, and Girardi hinted that he would have preferred Olsen (12-8) to pitch around the slugger.

``Except for a couple of pitches to Ryan, I pitched a good game,'' Olsen said. ``He's got 56 home runs for a reason.''

In other NL games, it was: San Francisco 4, San Diego 0; Los Angeles 5, New York 0; Atlanta 8, Chicago 4; Houston 4, Milwaukee 3; Cincinnati 9, Pittsburgh 1; Arizona 13, St. Louis 1; and Colorado 11, Washington 8.

Moyer (2-1), making his 514th start and his first against Florida, allowed five hits and one run and threw only 90 pitches.

Tom Gordon pitched the ninth for his 28th save in 32 chances, and his first since being sidelined Aug. 12 by a strained right shoulder.

``We need to win a couple more,'' Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

Giants 4, Padres 0

Matt Cain carried a no-hit bid into the sixth on the way to his fourth straight victory, and host San Francisco gained ground on NL wild-card leading San Diego.

Pedro Feliz and Omar Vizquel each singled in a run and Shea Hillenbrand added an RBI groundout for the Giants, who pulled within 2 1/2 games of the Padres in the wild-card race and snapped San Diego's five-game winning streak.

The Giants, in third place behind the Padres and Philadelphia Phillies, won for the fifth time in six games and ninth in 13 _ getting yet another gem from Cain (12-9).

Jake Peavy (8-14), pitching with an injured fourth toe on his left foot, allowed seven hits and three runs in 6 2-3 innings.

Dodgers 5, Mets 0

At New York, Nomar Garciaparra and Rafael Furcal homered to help Hong-Chih Kuo get his first major league victory.

Kuo (1-4) yielded three hits, struck out seven and walked three in six innings on Taiwan heritage night at Shea Stadium. He became the third Taiwanese pitcher to start a game in the major leagues.

The Mets, blanked for the second time in five days, only managed four hits against Kuo and three relievers _ Brett Tomko, Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito.

John Maine (5-4) lost for the first time since July 8 against Florida.

Braves 8, Cubs 4

Brian McCann homered and drove in three runs, providing a glimmer of hope to host Atlanta's fading playoff chances.

After the Cubs jumped ahead with three unearned runs in the second, McCann led off the bottom half with his 18th homer over the center-field wall. Two innings later, he tied it up with a two-run double.

Adam LaRoche and Marcus Giles also homered for the Braves.

Tim Hudson (12-10) won his fourth straight decision, overcoming a couple of errors in the second that allowed Chicago to jump ahead 3-1.

Astros 4, Brewers 3

Roy Oswalt allowed five hits in seven strong innings for his sixth victory in his last seven decisions.

Aubrey Huff and Morgan Ensberg homered to help visiting Houston stay close in the NL wild-card race. The Astros are seeking their third consecutive playoff appearance.

Huff's solo shot off Jose Capellan (2-2) in the top of the eighth gave Oswalt (12-8) the win and helped the Astros improve to 9-3 in their last 12 games.

Reds 9, Pirates 1

Adam Dunn hit his 40th homer and Javier Valentin connected in consecutive at-bats for host Cincinnati.

Kyle Lohse (2-2) pitched seven strong innings and Ryan Freel hit a leadoff homer for the Reds, who had lost four of five.

Dunn became the second player in Reds history to hit at least 40 home runs in three consecutive seasons. Ted Kluszewski (1953-1955) was the first.

Ian Snell (12-10) has lost his last two starts after logging three wins and a no-decision in his previous four.

Diamondbacks 13, Cardinals 1

Livan Hernandez allowed two hits in seven innings, Conor Jackson tied a career high with four RBIs and rookie Carlos Quentin had a career-high four hits for host Arizona.

Hernandez (11-12), who gave up one run, won for only the second time in six starts since joining the Diamondbacks on Aug. 7. St. Louis starter Anthony Reyes (5-7) gave up seven runs and seven hits in 2 1-3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.

Arizona left fielder Luis Gonzalez had three hits, including his 48th double, breaking the club record he set in 2000.

Rockies 11, Nationals 8

Chris Iannetta snapped an 0-for-21 skid with a two-out RBI single in the eighth and Brad Hawpe and Jeff Salazar each added three RBIs for host Colorado.

Trailing by one in the eighth, the Rockies scored four runs off Jon Rauch (3-4).

Reliever Nate Field (1-1) earned the win and Brian Fuentes pitched the ninth for his 24th save in 29 chances.