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PHI@COL: Howard collects four hits in a huge game

DENVER -- The Phillies promised a bigger and better offense with a healthy Ryan Howard in the lineup in 2014.

He had hobbled on one leg each of the past two seasons as the Phillies missed the postseason. But even with a healthy Howard this year, the Phillies offense remained inconsistent through the first 17 games. In fact, the Phillies started Sunday's series finale against the Rockies at Coors Field without an extra-base hit in four consecutive games, matching the longest drought in baseball since the expansion Marlins in Sept. 1993 and the longest drought for the franchise since May 1968.

But Howard paced the Phillies in a 10-9 victory on Sunday. He went 4-for-5 with a triple, home run, three RBIs and three runs scored. He tied a career-high with four hits, the first time he had done it since July 30, 2011.

"It's a work in progress," said Howard, who raised his batting average to .262. "Just trying to take it as it comes. Today was a good day. Just have to try to continue to build off of that."

Howard is on pace for 36 home runs, 90 RBIs, 90 walks and 189 strikeouts this season. His 90 walks would be his most since 107 walks in 2007.

"Big Ryan? He could pick it up some," Jimmy Rollins said with a smile. "He's got to get like eight home runs a month. Then he'll be on pace to be Ryan Howard."

Sure, but 36 homers wouldn't be bad.

"He does that in his sleep," Rollins said. "I'm joking. He's getting his swing. You see him fouling off balls down the left-field line, to the left side, that's a good sign for him. That means he's letting the ball travel. He's trusting his swing. He's trusting his contact point. He's starting to get there. That's the work. It hadn't shown up for about four games in a row, but hopefully everybody gets going and we become sick with hitting."

Howard pleaded ignorance about the four consecutive games without an extra-base hit, but Rollins said he knew after seeing the statistic crawl across the bottom of his TV screen in his hotel room Saturday night.

Rollins snapped the streak with a solo home run to right field in the first inning to hand the Phillies a 1-0 lead. It snapped a stretch of 130 consecutive plate appearances without an extra-base hit, going back to Domonic Brown's home run in the eighth inning Monday against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. It ensured the Phillies would not join the 1985 Pirates and 1927 Phillies, the last team in baseball and the last Phillies team to play five consecutive games without an extra-base hit.

It was Rollins' third homer of the season. He had six last year.

"There was a power outage last year," Rollins said. "Somebody turned the lights out, but it's good to be able to get back to doing me."

Everybody hit Sunday. Chase Utley hit a two-out double down the right-field line in the third in a 1-1 game, which sent Howard to the plate. He hit a two-run home run to left field to make it 3-1.

But the lead didn't last long in a wild game with three replay challenges that saw the Phillies lose the lead three times. Phillies right-hander Roberto Hernandez, who entered with a 3.86 ERA, allowed three runs in the bottom of the third to hand the Rockies a 4-3 lead. He allowed two more in the fifth to hand the Rockies a 6-3 lead.

The Phillies scored twice in the sixth to make it 6-5 when Howard tripled and scored on Marlon Byrd's single, and Byrd scored on a sacrifice fly from pinch-hitter Freddy Galvis. It was the Phillies' first sacrifice fly of the season.

They finished the game with three after entering the day the only team in baseball without one.

The Phillies took an 8-6 lead in the seventh with help from another hit from Howard, but Rockies first baseman Justin Morenau hit a two-run homer against Jake Diekman in the bottom of the inning to tie it.

The Phillies, who finished with seven extra-base hits, scored two more runs in the eighth to take a 10-8 lead.

Jonathan Papelbon picked up the save in the ninth with John Mayberry Jr. making a difficult pick on a throw from Galvis to end the game. It looked like Mayberry's foot might have come off the bag, but it did not, which replay confirmed.

"Coors Field special with replays right down to the end," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.

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