Howard obliges Sarge, ties DiMaggio

Phillies first baseman hits 361st career home run in loss to Nats

Howard obliges Sarge, ties DiMaggio

PHILADELPHIA -- Maybe the Phillies need more Sarge in their lives.

Former Phillies slugger, broadcaster and fedora aficionado Gary Matthews made an appearance in the Phillies' dugout before Friday night's 9-1 loss to the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. He ran into Ryan Howard and asked him a small favor.

"Hit one for Jackie," Matthews said, referring to the Jackie Robinson Day festivities.

"Believe it," Howard replied.

Well, Howard fulfilled his promise and hit a solo home run to right field in the ninth inning. It not only was Howard's fourth homer of the season, it was the 361st homer of his career. It tied Howard with Joe DiMaggio for 81st on the all-time home run list.

"It's surreal," Howard said. "Sometimes it's hard to think of your name being in the same breath as some of these guys that have played the game before. So it's a very humbling situation. I don't know. Words really can't describe that kind of feeling."

Howard has hit 23 homers in each of his previous two seasons. If he matches that total this season he will finish 2016 with 380 homers, which would put him in sole possession of 70th place on the all-time homer list. He would pass Hall of Famers Ralph Kiner (369), Carlton Fisk (376), Tony Perez (379) and Orlando Cepeda (379) along the way.

Howard is hitting .219 with four home runs, seven RBIs and an .883 OPS through 11 games. He did not hit his fourth homer until his 22nd game last season and his 18th game in 2015.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Howard said. "Just trying to find some green out there."

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