Phils fall despite Howard's record blast
Slugger becomes fastest player to 100 homers in loss to Reds
PHILADELPHIA -- Jamie Moyer was pitching a gem, Ryan Howard reached another milestone, and the Phillies were on their way to a win over the Reds.And then ... "The floodgates opened," second baseman Chase Utley said. Literally and figuratively. Moyer and reliever Geoff Geary combined to allow six runs in the seventh inning. The Phillies' attempt at a comeback was dampened by a 42-minute rain delay and the Reds poured it on, winning 9-6 at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday. Greg Dobbs hit a two-out triple in the eighth inning with the Phillies down a run. The shot hit off the top of the wall in right field and ricocheted back over Ken Griffey Jr.'s head. The wind swirled and lightning flashed as Utley came to the plate. Then, the game went into a rain delay. When play resumed, the momentum was gone. Utley walked, but Howard struck out following a couple of close called strikes. Reliever Jose Mesa served up a two-run homer to Adam Dunn in the top of the ninth to provide the Reds insurance. Moyer did what he could under the muggy conditions. The left-hander didn't surrender a hit until he had two outs in the sixth inning. He struck out a season-high eight. But he ran into trouble in the seventh and the bullpen couldn't salvage his gem. "You got to force them to swing the bat," Moyer said. "Unfortunately, I walked a couple guys and that was the end of it." Six runs crossed the plate for the Reds in the seventh inning. Three were charged to Moyer and the others to Geary, who continued his recent struggles despite ditching his goatee. The right-hander has given up 10 earned runs over his last 7 1/3 innings. "We don't give up two, three or four runs," said manager Charlie Manuel. "We're giving up five, six, seven and eight [runs]. That's what's showing up." There still seemed to be hope for the Phillies, though. The Reds were, after all, one of the only National League bullpens to rank worse than the Phillies in ERA. But Aaron Rowand's bid for a leadoff home run to start the ninth fell a foot short. Shane Victorino grounded harmlessly to first. And Pat Burrell, pinch-hitting for Abraham Nunez, grounded out. The Phillies left with a damp feeling after rocking the Reds for 11 runs on Tuesday. Thursday's rubber match could be pivotal for the Phillies' momentum heading into a weekend series with the NL East-leading Mets. The Phillies fell into a tie with the Braves, 3 1/2 games back. "We can't look forward right now," reliever Brian Sanches said. "Each game is too big." Howard came up big for the second consecutive game. His three-run home run in the fifth inning broke up a scoreless game and made Howard the fastest slugger in Major League history to 100 home runs, doing it in 325 games. The previous record was 385 games, set by Ralph Kiner in 1948. The straightaway blast landed on Ashburn Alley and traveled an estimated 505 feet, the longest home run in Citizens Bank Park history. It wouldn't be enough. To start the seventh, Moyer gave up a base hit and two walks to load the bases. He was yanked in favor of Geary, who surrendered a double to Alex Gonzalez. Left-hander Mike Zagurski came in to match up against the left-handed Ken Griffey Jr., but he gave up a two-RBI single. Afterwards, Moyer refused to point the finger at the bullpen. "The thing that I know is that everyone here is giving good effort," Moyer said. "Sometimes it's good enough, sometimes it isn't." Sanches picked up his first Major League loss after picking up his first win during his last appearance. The Phillies scored three runs to tie it in the bottom of the seventh, but Sanches gave up the go-ahead run the next half-inning. He hit Edwin Encarnacion on an 0-2 pitch to open the inning, and the Reds third baseman came around to score. "It was an 0-2 split," Sanches said. "I felt good with it. It just slipped out of my hand." Chalk it up as another product of the downpour.
Stephen Fastenau is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.