10/26/08 11:45 PM ET
Phillies Short Hops: Game 4
Howard's power backs Blanton; Philly on verge of Series title
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
Philadelphia starter Joe Blanton was dazzling, and Ryan Howard's two home runs helped lead the Phillies to a commanding 3-1 series lead.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Blanton connected for his first career homer. Blanton entered the game with just one hit but caught up to Rays reliever Edwin Jackson's fastball.
3 -- Number of walks drawn by Philadelphia off Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine. The Phillies capitalized on Sonnanstine's uncharacteristic wildness, drawing a bases-loaded walk in the first inning and a free pass in the fourth inning that scored on Howard's first homer.
Game ballsJimmy Rollins
After going 0-for-10 in the first two games of the series, Rollins is 5-for-9 with four runs in Games 3 and 4. The Phillies' leadoff man reached base in his first three at-bats Sunday night, twice scoring. Ryan Howard
Howard went deep for a three-run shot in the fourth and a solo blast in the eighth inning, giving him three homers in the past two games.
In addition to his solo homer, Blanton was a force on the mound. The right-hander went six-plus innings in the 99-pitch performance, and his only two mistakes were a pair of homers by Carl Crawford and Eric Hinske.
Sense of October
After Howard's fourth-inning blast, the sell-out crowd at Citizens Bank Park was on its feet, rewarding the slugger with a standing ovation.
4 AB, 3 H, 2 R, 5 RBI, BB
Comment: Before his Game 3 homer, Howard hadn't gone yard since Sept. 26. With blasts in two straight games, the former National League MVP is heating up.
6 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 7 K
Comment: Blanton struck out four of the first eight Rays batters he faced and kept Tampa Bay's first four batters hitless.
"It's better to be lucky than good." -- Blanton, on his homer on FOX after the game
The Phillies will send Cole Hamels to the mound on Monday night with a chance to clinch a World Series title on their home turf. The left-hander was dominant in his Game 1 start, tossing seven innings and allowing two runs on five hits.
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.