National League Game Summary - Philadelphia at Atlanta
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Ryan Howard had his first two-homer game since May 30, driving in all four Phillies runs during a 4-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves -- a rain-delayed conclusion to a three-game series from Turner Field between the NL East foes.
Howard, who recently snapped out of 55 homerless at-bat streak on August 12 -- the longest such streak of his career, has now hit four home runs in as many games for the Phillies, who rebounded from getting swept by the Marlins last weekend at home to post a 5-1 road trip against Chicago and Atlanta.
It was the third multi-homer game of the season for Howard and the 20th of his career. Of Howard's 30 home runs this season, 18 -- including both Sunday -- have either tied the contest or put the Phillies in front. He finished the tilt 3-for-3 with a walk to push his batting average to .269.
J.A. Happ (9-2) continued his sensational rookie season, shaking off a one hour and 37 minute rain delay to hurl 7 2/3 effective innings. The southpaw allowed a solo homer to Matt Diaz among three hits, also walking six while fanning three to lower his earned run average to 2.66 -- tops in the majors among rookie starters.
Brad Lidge, who blew his major league-leading eighth save in Saturday's 4-3 Atlanta victory, retired the only batter he faced to notch his 23rd save of the season.
Diaz had two of the Braves' four hits, including his seventh home run of the season, as Atlanta lost for the first time in Javier Vazquez's last eight starts. Vazquez (10-8) had earned the win in five of his last seven outings but gave up four runs on six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in seven innings to absorb the loss.
In Vazquez's 24 starts this season, the Braves have scored three or less runs 11 times.
After each team could manage only a solo homer through the first five innings, Philadelphia grabbed the lead for good in the sixth thanks to their hottest hitter -- Howard.
Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino both singled to start the frame, putting runners on first and second. Chase Utley went down swinging, but Howard crushed a high fastball for a majestic home run over the right field fence to give the Phillies a 4-1 lead.
The Braves loaded the bases with two outs in the home half on a single and two walks, but Ryan Church fouled out to deep left to end the threat.
Atlanta put the leadoff batter on base in the seventh, but Happ induced a fly out from Omar Infante and a 3-6-3 double play groundout from Garret Anderson to get through the inning unharmed.
Happ and Ryan Madson combined to pitch a scoreless eighth, and Scott Eyre set down the first two batters of the ninth before walking a batter and giving way to Lidge, who got Infante to pop out to second to end the game.
After Happ struck out Yunel Escobar to strand Atlanta runners on second and third in the first, Howard blasted a leadoff homer in the second to right-center field to give the Phillies the lead.
Neither team put together another threat until Diaz tied the game with a two- out solo home run in the fourth.