“I found the ball. That’s about it,” Howard said. “With swinging, sometimes you have to tinker with a few things, sometimes it just finds you. You don’t question it. You just try to roll with it.”
Howard, who was NL MVP in 2006 when he hit 58 homers, has struggled since tearing his Achilles’ tendon on the final swing of the 2011 season in a playoff loss. If he regains his old form, Howard could keep the Phillies in contention in a division that lacks a dominant team.
“I believe this is a championship-caliber team,” Howard said. “We just have to play like it. We’ve talked about trying to build on games like this. Now it’s about doing it.”
Closer La Troy Hawkins (2-1) got the first out in the ninth before Tony Gwynn Jr. reached on second baseman D.J. LeMahieu’s throwing error. Ben Revere followed with a single to right. Jimmy Rollins then hit a foul pop that Troy Tulowitzki, a two-time Gold Glove winning shortstop, dropped for an error. But Hawkins retired Rollins on a liner to left. Logan entered and allowed Utley’s line-drive single to right that scored Gwynn.
Howard then connected on a 2-2 pitch for his ninth homer.
Jonathan Papelbon (1-1) tossed a perfect ninth for the win.
LeMahieu hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth and Justin Morneau also hit a solo homer for Colorado.
Phillies reliever Mike Adams pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the seventh after Antonio Bastardo walked the first three hitters. Adams entered and retired pinch-hitter Carlos Gonzalez on a home-to-first double play bouncer to the mound. Adams then struck out pinch-hitter Tulowitzki to end the inning.
“I’m not going to back down from nobody,” Adams said about not walking Tulowitzki. “I’m not scared. It’s competition. I feel I’m better than anybody at the plate.”
Howard called Adams’ performance “phenomenal.”
But LeMahieu connected off Jake Diekman in the eighth, lining one into the left-field seats. It was LeMahieu’s first homer this season in 160 at-bats and fifth in 853 career at-bats.
“Utley had a big hit, too,” Tulowitzki said. “Sometimes you tip your hat to the other guy.”