OSAKA, Japan -- Ryan Howard came through again for the MLB
The Philadelphia Phillies slugger hit a tiebreaking homer in the
top of the eighth inning Tuesday, powering the major leaguers to a
7-2 victory over the stars of Japanese baseball for a 4-0 lead in
the five-game series.
Howard, who led the majors with 58 homers this season, delivered
on a 3-2 pitch for his fourth homer of the series.
"I was just trying to make contact and the ball went out,"
said Howard, who homered twice Saturday and once Sunday. "This has
been a lot of fun. I know the Japanese fans like it and I'm
The series ends Wednesday at Fukuoka Dome. The major leaguers,
managed by Bruce Bochy, are expected to start John Lackey start
against Tsuyoshi Wada. Since 1986, when MLB started this series in
its current format, no team has swept the Japanese.
The Japanese are without many top players. Michihiro Ogasawara
of the Japan Series champion Nippon Ham Fighters left the team
after Sunday's game to prepare for the Asia Series, which starts
Chase Utley of the Phillies made it 4-2 in the eighth with a
bases-loaded single. Kazuo Fukumori, who gave up Howard's homer,
walked in another run before Jose Reyes of the New York Mets capped
the scoring with a two-run single.
David Wright of the New York Mets gave the MLB stars a 2-0 lead
in the top of the fourth inning with a solo homer off Kei Igawa.
"I was looking for a fastball, but I was able to adjust to his
slider," Wright said. "I was able to pull it out of the park."
The Japanese cut the deficit to a run on an RBI single by
Shuichi Murata in the sixth and tied it on Shinnosuke Abe's
sacrifice fly to right that Chone Figgins of the Los Angeles Angels
snared with a diving catch.