07/14/10 1:20 AM ET
Howard, Doc happy to be part of NL's win
Ending AL's reign, All-Stars pleased to see Manuel at helm
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
Like many of his pregame and preseason talks, he had his players laughing while sending them a message. He told them how he wanted the NL to earn home-field advantage in the World Series, snapping its 13-year losing streak to the American League in the process. He told his players to relax and have fun.
"I don't know if they heard or not," Manuel said. "You'd have to ask them."
They heard him. They especially heard him when he stressed one particular point:
It is time to end the streak.
"I can't say what he said," Phillies hitting coach Milt Thompson said with a smile following the NL's 3-1 victory over the AL at Angel Stadium. "It was all about kicking somebody's butt, though."
Chase Utley, Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard represented the Phils as NL All-Stars, although Utley did not attend the festivities or game because he is recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligament on his right thumb.
Howard went 0-for-2 with a strikeout.
Halladay allowed two hits in two-thirds of an inning.
Both felt good to be part of the team that snapped the streak. Both were happy to see Manuel manage the team that did it.
"For Philadelphia, the great fans, it is an advantage being able to be at home [in the World Series]," Halladay said. "That's definitely a huge part of it. You look at the Yankees' record last year in the postseason at home, it's pretty good. I think most teams obviously would love to have it."
Howard struck out swinging on a 98-mph fastball from Rays left-hander David Price in the first inning and grounded out to Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano on a 1-0 fastball from former teammate and current Rangers left-hander Cliff Lee in the fourth.
Howard faced two of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball in his two at-bats.
Talk about a challenge. Howard has hit .320 with 11 homers, 45 RBIs and a .551 slugging percentage in 225 at-bats this season against right-handers. He has hit .244 with six homers, 20 RBIs and a .429 slugging percentage in 119 at-bats against left-handers.
"It was a little tough in the early innings with the shadows," Howard said. "It was tough to pick up the ball. [Lee] threw me a couple cutters. I went back in and I can understand for a righty why it would be tough to hit a guy like Cliff."
Manuel had said Halladay would pitch no more than an inning, which made sense. Halladay leads the NL with 148 innings, six complete games and three shutouts. He could use the rest.
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter hit the first pitch from Halladay into right-center for a bloop single. Pinch-runner Elvis Andrus was caught stealing and White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko struck out for the second out.
Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton singled to right field in a 10-pitch at-bat.
Halladay had thrown 17 pitches, which was enough for Manuel.
"They were trying to keep it as a short as possible," Halladay said. "We had talked about splitting innings, just keeping pitch counts down. I think that was the big thing. [I'll] try to catch my breath a little bit and go in strong in the second half. That's the great thing about having your coaches on the staff -- they can kind of help you out there."
Halladay, Howard, Manuel and the rest of Philadelphia's coaching staff packed up and flew home Tuesday night. They open the second half of their season Thursday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
The Phillies are 4 1/2 games behind the Braves in the NL East. They are a half-game behind the Mets.
It figures to be a close race the rest of the way.
But not just in the NL East. There are the Padres, Rockies, Dodgers and Giants in the NL West and the Reds and Cardinals in the NL Central.
"Obviously, home-field advantage for the World Series is up for grabs," Howard said. "It's going to be a 'Cannonball Run' for the National League."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.