Howard finds his power stroke on homestand

Howard finds his power stroke on homestand

PHILADELPHIA -- Before this homestand, Ryan Howard had one home run in his last 33 games, but the low power numbers did not seem to worry manager Charlie Manuel too much.

At the beginning of the week, Manuel predicted that his slugging first baseman would start driving the ball over the fence more often -- and he was right.

In the first five games of the Phillies' homestand, Howard went deep three times, including a two-homer, four-RBI performance on Saturday. The four runs driven in were the most he's had in a game this season, and it was his first multihomer game in nearly 22 months.

Howard was 9-for-18 with seven RBIs since the Phillies came back to Citizens Bank Park, and he was hitting .471 in his last nine games entering Sunday. Manuel said Howard is being more selective at the plate lately and getting the fat part of the bat on the ball.

"Usually when you do that, you'll get some timing, and he's doing it consistently in games, especially against right-handers," Manuel said. "And you could see it [Saturday]. He got the ball up in the air because he took good, quick swings at the ball."

Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.