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News » Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2008-06-09

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2008-06-09

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2008-06-09
Charlie Manuel says the sweltering summertime weather is "hitting season" for slugging first baseman Ryan Howard, and there's statistical evidence to back the Phillies manager's claim. Howard is a .280 career hitter, but after June 1, his average rises to .298.

Howard endured a dreadful six-week slump to open the season and was batting .183 as recently as May 20. But he belted three doubles and drove in four runs in Sunday's series finale against the Braves, and over the past 18 games, he's quietly batting .290 (20-for-69) with 24 RBIs.

"I like hot weather," Howard said after the Phillies finished off the Braves, who are 25-11 at home. "I'm used to it, growing up in St. Louis where it's kind of hot and sticky like this. I like playing in weather like this. You get a good sweat going." That wasn't tough Sunday. The mercury read 93 degrees at 1:35 p.m., when Braves right-hander Jorge Campillo unleashed his first pitch, and it only rose throughout the day. Howard reached to hit Campillo changeups off the end of his bat for RBI doubles to right field in the first inning and left field in the third to give the Phillies 1-0 and 3-2 leads.

And after Shane Victorino's RBI single to center field scored Eric Bruntlett to break a 3-3 tie in the ninth, Howard swatted an opposite-field, two-run double off the base of the left-field wall to extend the lead to 6-3 and leave his average at .214, the highest it has been since April 5.

"I don't look at his average. I put him fourth every day, don't I?" said Manuel, who never removed Howard from the cleanup spot, even when his average dipped to a season-low .163 on May 7. "I know he's going to hit and he's going to help us, and he has helped us. He's got close to 50 RBIs. That'll get him in the top 10 in the league by the time it's all over.

"He's all right. He's got time to hit."

PHILLIES 6, BRAVES 3: Shane Victorino drove in the go-ahead run and fueled a three-run ninth inning to complete the Phillies' three-game series sweep at Turner Field. The Phillies moved 6-1/2 games ahead of the Braves in the NL East. Ryan Howard went 3-for-5 with three doubles and four RBIs. Chad Durbin tossed two scoreless innings before closer Brad Lidge pitched a spotless ninth for his 17th save in as many chances. Victorino had three hits and scored three runs for the Phillies.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: June 9, 2008

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