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Wells can't handle Phillies' power

Wells can't handle Phillies' power

SAN DIEGO -- One sweet-swinging left-handed hitter nearly upstaged another Saturday at PETCO Park, though Philadelphia's Ryan Howard certainly fell woefully short in the oneupmanship department.

Not that the Phillies' slugger complained much, as his two long home runs accounted for plenty of offense as the Phillies topped the Padres, 12-4, on a night when soon-to-be Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn was honored.

Howard hit a three-run home run off Padres starter David Wells in the first inning before adding a solo blast in the fourth inning that found its way into the upper deck in left-center field, rare territory for any hitter, let alone a left-hander.

Just for good measure, Howard smacked an RBI single to center field off Wells in the fifth inning on the last pitch the 44-year-old left hander threw, punctuating a night when a 9 1/2-foot bronze statue of Gwynn was unveiled before a crowd of 40,917.

But for the Phillies on Saturday, Howard's left-handed swing was worth its weight in gold, while Wells' pitching certainly left a lot to be desired for the Padres (53-43), although if not for the two pitches to Howard things may have been vastly different.

"You're talking about a prolific power hitter," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He does that to a lot of pitchers. It's just one of those nights where he showed his ability -- This is what he does."

The Padres dropped their second game in as many nights to the Phillies, who again got a lot of mileage out of one of baseball's best offenses that once again appeared to confuse spacious PETCO Park for their own (Citizens Bank Park).

All at the expense of the Padres' pitching staff that suddenly can't chase the Phillies (49-48) -- who have scored a combined 19 runs the last two games -- out of town fast enough.

Wells (5-6) ran into trouble almost immediately, which certainly didn't follow the pattern of his previous starts, where other than a three-inning stint against the Braves on July 7 when he was ejected after three innings, he's mostly been reliable and durable.

But Wells allowed a leadoff single to Jimmy Rollins, who promptly swiped second base. After getting Shane Victorino on a fly ball to left field, Wells walked Chase Utley. That brought up Howard, who entered the game with 25 home runs.

Howard fell behind in the count 1-2 but eventually worked the count back to 2-2 before going down and driving an 86 mph fastball from Wells to dead center field, a blast that kept carrying and carrying until Mike Cameron couldn't run any farther.

"I thought that it was a fly ball," Wells said of the blast from Howard, who has hit 12 of his 27 home runs this season off left-handed pitchers. "He's a big, strong kid. It was a good pitch. I thought Cammy had a chance. He's legit. He's got a good swing."

Howard got Wells again when he led off the fourth inning with a home run that landed in the far corner of the upper deck in left-center field. All told, Wells allowed a season-high seven runs on seven hits over 4 1/3 innings, including a two-run home run to Wes Helms.

"I wasn't hitting my locations very well ... leaving the ball over the middle of the plate," Wells said.

And he never saw it coming. After all, Wells had allowed a combined seven runs over his five starts, four that saw the Padres emerge victorious. But not Saturday, though, as even the torrid hitting of Milton Bradley could help San Diego climb out of its early hole.

Bradley had three hits and drove in two runs, both coming on a two-run home run off of Philadelphia pitcher Jamie Moyer (8-8) in the seventh inning. In his first 10 games since joining the Padres, Bradley is hitting .361 with three home runs and six RBIs.

"He's swinging the bat great, he's been everything as advertised," Black said of Bradley. "He's been getting on base. He's been a great addition."

The 44-year-old Moyer -- who with Wells combined for the second-oldest pair of pitchers to start a game in Major League history -- certainly benefited from an early lead. Moyer allowed four runs on eight hits and had six strikeouts.

"I've seen Jamie for seven years when he was with the Mariners," Black said. "He knows how to work his way through a game."

Bradley's blast off Moyer in the seventh inning cut the margin to 7-4, but the Phillies added five runs to their total in the top of the ninth inning off Cla Meredith, although he gave up two infield singles on two plays that could have ended the inning.

But it mattered little in the end as the Padres -- who fell a game behind the Dodgers in the National League West -- couldn't solve Howard, who has reached base 11 times over 14 official plate appearances in this series.

"There's only one pitcher's park in America, and they don't have a baseball field there," Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins joked, referring to the Grand Canyon. "It's somewhere in Arizona. And I wouldn't be surprised if he went and knocked that wall down."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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