Howard goes deep and Phillies beat Pirates 7-4

July 31, 2011
Philadelphia Phillies'  Ryan Howard (6) celebrates with Hunter Pence after Howard hit a solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 30, 2011, in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr)
View photos
Philadelphia Phillies' Ryan Howard (6) celebrates with Hunter Pence after Howard hit a solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 30, 2011, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Hunter Pence got one hit in his first game with Philadelphia and still made a huge impact for the Phillies.

With Pence batting behind him, Ryan Howard had four hits, including a homer and two doubles, and three RBIs to lead the Phillies to a 7-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"It helps having a guy like Hunter Pence in the lineup," Howard said. "He's another threat pitchers have to worry about. He brought a lot of energy and fits in great in this clubhouse."

Pence had an RBI single in his debut for the Phillies after he was acquired from the Houston Astros on Friday night for three minor leaguers. He hit .309 with 11 homers and 62 RBIs in 99 games with the Astros and was a much-coveted right-handed bat the Phillies wanted in part to protect Howard.

"Put Pence between Howard and (Raul) Ibanez and you pick your poison," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Pence wore No. 3, started in right field and batted fifth. He was greeted with a standing ovation when he took the field in the first inning and when he batted for the first time in second.

"The fans were giving me chills," Pence said. "I can't even begin to explain it. It's surreal. It's awesome. Thank you."

Howard might have wanted to say the same thing to Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. for bringing in Pence.

"That definitely helps having a guy like Hunter back there, especially in late-game situations," Howard said. "It definitely helps the entire lineup. It's going to be a fun ride having him here."

Howard made the move look good and he had a shot at the cycle, needing only a triple, when he drove the ball to deep center in the sixth. The ball caromed off the glove of Andrew McCutchen just in front of the wall in center, but the center fielder quickly retrieved it and held Howard to his second double of the game.

"That's a tough order for him," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel joked of slow-footed Howard hitting a triple. "He's kind of like me, he needs a bigger yard."

Cliff Lee (10-7) struck out 11 to reach double digits for the 16th time in his 10-year career, including seven this season. He allowed four runs on eight hits and walked two in 7 2-3 innings.

Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out the side, for his 17th save in 18 chances.

James McDonald (7-5) gave up five runs on 10 hits while striking out five and walking two.

Pedro Alvarez homered for the Pirates.

Howard led off the second with a solo shot to deep center to give Philadelphia a 1-0 lead, snapping McDonald's 12 2-3 scoreless streak.

"Howard's homer was a mistake pitch," McDonald said. "He's a professional hitter and showed it."

The Pirates avoided pitching to Howard in the eighth with a runner on third and one out, electing to walk him and face Pence. He was 0 for 4 to that point, but came through with a single that scored Shane Victorino and put Philadelphia ahead 7-4.

"That's what I'm here for," Pence said. "If they're going to do that, make them pay."

Jimmy Rollins had put the Phillies ahead 2-0 with a solo homer to right in the third and, three batters later, Howard made it 3-0 with a double off the wall in left that scored Victorino. It was the 1,000th hit of Howard's career.

Alvarez brought Pittsburgh within 3-2 with his two-out, two-run shot to right in the fourth.

But the Phillies got both runs back in the bottom of the frame. Lee scored when right fielder Steve Pearce misplayed Chase Utley's single to right, and Rollins reached on Howard's RBI single to right.

Philadelphia tacked on a run in the seventh on Carlos Ruiz's RBI double to left-center that scored Placido Polanco and made it 6-2.

Pence grounded out in his first at-bat, although replays appeared to show he beat shortstop Walker's throw to first on a grounder up the middle. First-base umpire Angel Hernandez, however, called Pence out, prompting Manuel to come out to argue and Pence to pull his helmet off in apparent disbelief.

In his second at-bat, Pence flied out to short right field with runners on second and third and one out. Pence grounded into a fielder's choice in his third at-bat, and hit an inning-ending groundout to short in sixth in his fourth at-bat.

"He's a hustler who brings a lot of energy to the field," Manuel said. "He loves to play. He's going to be a real good addition for us."

The Phillies optioned promising outfielder Domonic Brown to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Brown batted .246 with five home runs and 19 RBIs in 54 games for the Phillies this season.

NOTES: Along with Brown, the Phillies optioned right-hander Andrew Carpenter to Triple-A, and activated third baseman Polanco from the disabled list. Polanco had been sidelined since July 5 with a back injury. Lee's two hits gave him 11 for the season, leading all Philadelphia pitchers. The crowd of 45,737 was the Phillies' 181st consecutive sellout. Pittsburgh's Michael McKenry went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts, snapping his six-game hitting streak.