Whether it's the familiarity, family support, or simple joy in competing against the team he cheered on as a child, Ryan Howard really seems to like playing in St. Louis. Howard's fifth-inning grand slam, his seventh career home run in 16 games at Busch Stadium was the big blow in a 6-1 Phillies win Monday night. The blast, off former teammate Kyle Lohse, also pulled Howard into a tie with Mike Schmidt for the franchise lead in grand slams with seven.
Pitcher Joe "Cupcakes" Blanton did the rest, shaking off his awful April (0-2, 8.41 in four starts) to register his first victory of 2009. Blanton worked six innings against a St. Louis lineup that had entered the evening with 140 runs scored in 25 games, second in the NL, holding the Cards to one run on four hits and two walks. Scott Eyre, Ryan Madson and Chad Durbin each added a scoreless inning in perhaps the Phillies' best-pitched game of the year to date.
An inning before Howard's slam, Jayson Werth hit a two-run homer earlier for the Phils, giving them a 2-1 lead and, technically, their 11th comeback win of the season.
The game was stopped for about fifteen minutes after a frightening incident in the top of the 8th inning. With Ryan Franklin on the mound, Pedro Feliz launched a drive that seemed ticketed for the left-center field gap. But Cardinals center fielder Rick Ankiel raced at full speed to track the ball down a few feet from the fence, before crashing into it face-first. The stadium went silent as trainers, coaches and teammates crowded around the fallen Ankiel, who eventually was taken off the field on a stretcher. He gave the crowd a thumbs-up as he was borne away; initial post-game reports were cautiously positive, with the Cardinals' team physician indicating that Ankiel had never lost consciousness but was suffering from "signs of whiplash." He was taken to a local hospital for a CT scan and X-rays.