Howard goes deep again as MLB All-Stars sock Japan
OSAKA, Japan -- Ryan Howard came through again for the MLB All-Stars.
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 enjoying it."
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 Thursday.
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.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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