Phillies find their offense
Big bats erupt in Game 1 rout
PHILADELPHIA - Ryan Howard took a mighty cut, dropped his bat, and admired the shot.
The big slugger didn’t go down looking in a clutch spot this time, Roy Halladay overcame a shaky start, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 11-6, last night in the opener of their National League Division Series.
Howard shook off his season-ending strikeout last October in the NLCS to hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in a five-run sixth inning, sending Citizens Bank Park into a frenzy.
“I left last year in the past,’’ Howard said. “You can’t let what happened last year affect this year. It’s a fresh start.’’
Halladay retired his last 21 batters, and the NL East champions began their all-or-nothing postseason run with a comeback win.
Halladay allowed three runs and three hits, striking out eight in eight innings. He didn’t allow a runner after Skip Schumaker led off the second with a single.
“That’s why he’s the best in the game,’’ Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols said.
Game 2 is tonight, with Cliff Lee pitching for Philadelphia against Chris Carpenter, who will start on three days’ rest.
Raul Ibanez hit a two-run shot off Kyle Lohse to cap the Phillies’ burst in the sixth, and Shane Victorino finished with three hits and two RBIs.
Last year, in his first career playoff start, Halladay threw the second no-hitter in postseason history in Philadelphia’s 4-0 victory over Cincinnati.
His bid for an encore in the first round didn’t last one batter, and Lance Berkman hit the first three-run homer off Halladay in three years to put the wild-card Cardinals ahead, 3-0, in the first.
Lohse retired the first 10 batters before Chase Utley hit a double off the right-field fence in the fourth. The righty, who was 14-8 this season, ran out of gas in the sixth.
Down, 3-1, Jimmy Rollins singled to start the inning. After Utley struck out, Hunter Pence grounded a single up the middle. That brought up Howard, who heard a lot of criticism for taking that called third strike last year with the tying run on second base to end the Phillies’ season against San Francisco.
Howard worked a full count before launching a towering drive into the second deck in right-center to give the Phillies a 4-3 lead.
“In that situation, I knew he wasn’t really going to throw a fastball, so I just sat on the changeup,’’ Howard said.
Victorino followed with a single and Ibanez lined a two-run homer to right to end Lohse’s night. Lohse allowed six runs - five earned - and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.
The Cardinals scored three times in the ninth off relievers Michael Stutes and Ryan Madson, highlighted by Schumaker’s two-run double.
Rafael Furcal led off the game with a single and stole second. One out later, Halladay walked Pujols on four pitches. Berkman drove the next pitch off the mini-scoreboard hanging on the facing off the second deck in right field.
“He got mad after he gave up that homer,’’ manager Charlie Manuel said of Halladay. “That ticked him off and he hung in there and he got going.’’