Ryan Howard went 0-for-3 in the Phillies' 3-2 loss to Nationals on Wednesday. But his total of 18 home runs at the end of May is the highest in major-league history by a sophomore (defined by Elias as a player in the season following his rookie year). Eddie Mathews and Dale Long, who both hit 14 home runs through May 31 in their sophomore season, were the co-holders of that record for more than 40 years until Tony Clark hit 17 in 1997. Howard broke Clark's record on Monday.• For more Elias Says, Click here
Aaron Rowand and David Dellucci hit solo homers for Philadelphia, which begins an 11-game road trip in Los Angeles on Thursday night."We had a lot of opportunities and came up short," Rowand said. "We just have to go out there, put together some rallies and string together some hits."Cory Lidle (4-5) walked Mike Vento to start the seventh. Vento advanced to second on Hernandez's sacrifice bunt and scored on Soriano's single up the middle that gave the Nationals a 3-2 lead.Hernandez hit a one-out single in the third, before Soriano launched his 19th homer into the seats in left-center to put Washington ahead 2-1.Soriano is batting .338 (48-for-142) with 13 homers and 26 RBI in the 34 games when he has batted first in the lineup. He's hitting just .220 (17-for-77) with six homers and 12 RBI in the 19 games he's been in the middle of the order."I got the big hit, but Livan pitched a great game," Soriano said.Dellucci tied it at 2 with a shot to right field leading off the fifth. Hernandez escaped further trouble in the inning by retiring Jimmy Rollins on a double-play grounder with runners on first and third and one out.The Phillies have lost seven straight one-run games since beating Cincinnati in extra innings on May 14. Overall, they're 7-11 in one-run games."We couldn't get the big hit at the right time," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We had chances but couldn't get it done. We were a hit away from winning the game."Rowand gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead in the second inning with his seventh homer. After he froze on a breaking ball, Rowand stayed back and hit another off-speed pitch into the left-field seats.Nationals center fielder Marlon Byrd made an outstanding catch in the fourth inning, leaping to rob Abreu of a homer.Lidle gave up three runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. He hasn't allowed fewer than three runs in any of his 11 starts.Hernandez has lowered his ERA from 6.52 to 5.10 in his last four outings. He's pitched at least seven innings in each of those starts and hasn't given up more than three earned runs in any."I've changed my mechanics and my knee was bothering me earlier in the season," Hernandez said.
Soriano is 13-for-36 with three homers and eight RBI against Lidle. He had 12 homers in May. ... Hernandez was 1-for-2 and is hitting .259 (7-for-27). He had two doubles and a homer in a 7-6 extra-inning loss at Philadelphia on April 19. ... Dellucci has two homers in his five starts in left field. ... The Phillies play only nine games at home in June. ... Rollins went 0-for-4 and stranded four runners in his last two at-bats. He is 8-for-47 against Hernandez.