Howard hopes first homer serves as turning point

Howard hopes first homer serves as turning point

PHILADELPHIA -- One game is one game, but Ryan Howard needed a night like the one he had Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park.

Howard went 2-for-3 with one home run, one walk and two RBIs in a 7-3 victory over the Marlins. He scored his first run of the season in the second inning when he walked and came home on Freddy Galvis' two-run home run. Howard then ripped a two-run home run to center field in the sixth to hand the Phillies a 4-3 lead.

It was Howard's first homer of the year.

Howard's two-run shot

"Hopefully it does turn it on," Howard said of the homer jumpstarting his season. "I'm just swinging. I'm going up there trying to have good at-bats. I'm just going out there and trying to have the same approach I had tonight and go from there."

Howard is hitting .209 (9-for-43) with three doubles, one home run, four RBIs, three walks, 16 strikeouts and a .610 OPS through the team's first 14 games. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg dropped him from the cleanup spot Thursday, hitting him seventh for the first time since 2006. He hit fifth Sunday before hitting sixth Tuesday.

It has been a trying couple of weeks. Several Phillies players are struggling offensively, but Howard has felt most of the heat.

Still, he has tried to remain upbeat publicly.

"It's just one day at a time, one pitch at a time, one game at a time," he said.

"Howie's been working hard, man," Phillies right-hander Jerome Williams said. "People always give him stuff about not working, but he's been working hard and it showed tonight."

Howard hopes Tuesday's success turns into a better week and perhaps a better season.

"You go out there, you swing, balls come off the bat and guys make plays and sometimes it doesn't go your way," he said. "All you can do is go out there and continue to swing and put good at-bats together. That's all you do. And I don't think a lot of people understand that."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.