08/25/10 2:22 AM ET
Phils rally late, lose memorable affair in 16
Rollins' homer ties it; Oswalt plays left after Howard's ejection
By Mike Radano / Special to MLB.com
So, too, was Roy Oswalt.
And for those left behind such as Jayson Werth, the memory of Tuesday night's chaotic game against Houston was too fresh to give a good review of what he had just experienced.
"I'm not sure what I just saw," Werth said. "I think I may go take a nap and think about it, [then] maybe come back [Wednesday], refreshed and act like none of that happened. We'll find out. I haven't been playing the game as long as some people, but that's the first time I've seen anything like that."
In a game that had plenty of bizarre moments, Houston (56-69) outlasted Philadelphia, 4-2, in a season-high 16 innings at Citizens Bank Park. The nuts and bolts of the situation were simple -- the Phillies remain 2 1/2 games behind the Braves in the National League East by virtue of Atlanta's 5-2 loss in Colorado. The Phillies now find themselves in a tie for the Wild Card with the Giants, who beat Cincinnati, 16-5.
That said, the memorable part of this evening came at the end of the 14th inning, when Ryan Howard was ejected for his anger over a pair of what he believed were check swings called strikes by third-base umpire Scott Barry.
"Anytime you act in a really mad manner, sometimes the umpire will throw you out of the game," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "I've never seen him upset like that.'
Howard was certainly upset and maybe had good reason to be, but all of that could have been avoided had the Phillies found a way to solve Astros starter Bud Norris. Norris allowed one run over six innings to negate a strong seven-inning effort by Phillies starter Cole Hamels, who allowed two runs on a Carlos Lee home run in the fourth.
The Phillies ended a 25-inning scoreless streak with Hamels on the mound on Raul Ibanez's RBI double in the sixth. The Phillies have managed to score two or fewer runs in 12 of Hamels' 26 starts, and this night was just more of the same for the left-hander.
Hamels was saved from a loss when Jimmy Rollins homered with two outs in the ninth, and from there what had been a pitchers' duel turned strange.
"That was definitely strange," said Ibanez, who moved to first base after Howard's ejection. It was the 136th appearance for Ibanez at first base, but first since 2005.
In the 14th, Placido Polanco hit a two-out single to right. Chase Utley walked, then both runners moved up on a wild pitch.
With a chance to end the game, Howard had a chance to spin on otherwise forgetful night, as he was 0-for-6 up that point with four strikeouts. However, it just wasn't meant to be.
Against Houston reliever Mark Melancon, Howard quickly fell behind 0-2. The second strike was called a swing by Barry, and Howard reacted by stepping out of the batter's box and casting a stare down at the Triple-A fill-in umpire. Barry reacted by putting his hands on his hips and glaring back, which foreshadowed things to come.
Howard fouled off a pair of pitches and took a ball before the final strike of the at-bat was again called a swing by Berry, and after a flip of the bat in disgust, Howard was tossed from the game.
"I didn't think it was a swing," Manuel said.
Swing or not, the only thing that mattered was the sight of an enraged Howard rumbling down toward Barry to give him a piece of his mind. Several players and coaches held him back, including Polanco, which was an odd image on an odd evening.
Once tempers were calmed -- Ross Gload, who is currently in the disabled list, was also tossed for arguing -- the real fun began. The Phillies were not only on their last reliever in David Herndon, but were also out of bench players. To remedy the situation, former Astros ace Oswalt, traded to the Phillies in July, sauntered out to play left field, while Ibanez made his move to first.
"I was going to help him if I could," center fielder Shane Victorino said. "But you just knew the ball was going to find him."
Sure enough, the first ball was hit right at Oswalt, who easily made the play.
The Astros' bullpen, which allowed just one run over 10 innings, held the Phillies in check until the 16th inning, when Houston scored a pair of runs off Herndon, working his third inning of the night.
"I felt fine," Herndon said. "I think a few balls drifted on me.
"I told [Oswalt] after the inning I was going to get him some action."
On a night where seemingly anything that could happen did, the fitting conclusion was Oswalt, hitting in Howard's cleanup spot, grounding out to third with the tying runs on base.
"We'll see how it goes [Wednesday]," Werth said.
For the Phils, they hope it won't go like it did Tuesday.
Mike Radano is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.