x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Howard ends Pirates bid with late homer

Philadelphia escape to thrilling victory and Phillies fan, the vice president Joe Biden, is happy after an unlikely ninth-inning breakthrough.

Philadelphia Phillies' Ryan Howard follows through on his hit for a game-tying three-run homer in the ninth inning.
Philadelphia Phillies' Ryan Howard follows through on his hit for a game-tying three-run homer in the ninth inning.

As it looked increasingly tight for the Phillies against the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday, the United States Vice President Joe Biden made a prediction - Ryan Howard will hit a homer. Howard did just that in the ninth inning - belting a 420ft, three-run shot to left-centre field to tie the game for Philadelphia.

Raul Ibanez then doubled, and two batters later, Paul Bako singled him home to cap off an improbable comeback, with the scoreline reading 8-7 in Philadelphia's favour. The Phillies scored five in the ninth off Pirates closer Matt Capps to beat the Bucs, 8-7, in front of 45,210 fans. "It was incredible," said Biden, wearing a Phillies cap and posing for a picture with Howard after the game. "I loved it. You know, the thing about the Phillies is, you never gave up."

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewers took advantage of a first-inning error to get to Los Angeles Dodgers starter Jeff Weaver early en route to a 6-3 win at Miller Park. After Craig Counsell hit a triple, he should have been thrown out at home trying to score on Ryan Braun's ground ball to shortstop Rafael Furcal, but Furcal threw the ball past catcher Russell Martin to allow Counsell to score.

Braun reached second on the error and scored moments later on Prince Fielder's single. Weaver then served up a home run ball to Frank Catalanotto, and was charged with his fourth run on Mike Burns's RBI single. Back-to-back home runs from Furcal and Andre Ethier got the Dodgers within one, but the Brewers scored twice in the eighth to make sure. The Brewers have closed the gap atop the National League Central back to two games after the division-leading St Louis Cardinals went down 5-2 to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Ted Lilly, the Cubs' lone All-Star this season a year after they had eight, collected his 100th major league victory as he held the Cardinals to four hits over eight innings, giving up one run. He was handed a 3-0 lead in the first inning as Cardinals starter Brad Thompson loaded the bases and then hit Milton Bradley with a pitch to force in the first. Jeff Baker followed with a two-run single. The win was crucial for the Cubs as they bid to stay in touch with the Cardinals, who are three and a half games ahead.

Pablo Sandoval's 15th home run of the season helped the San Francisco Giants overcome the early loss of starter Matt Cain to beat the San Diego Padres 2-1. Cain took a Tim Stauffer line drive off his pitching elbow in the second inning and left the game with what the team described as a bruise. The injury could prevent him from taking up his place on the All-Star team. But Justin Miller stepped in to pitch three and one third scoreless innings in relief, and got the support of Sandoval's second home run in as many days - a two-run blast that scored Randy Winn and provided all the offence San Francisco would need.

The New York Mets gambled that a change of scenery could get Jeff Francoeur back to his best, and Friday's trade with the Atlanta Braves paid some early dividends as the outfielder drove in two in a 4-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds. With Johan Santana shutting out the Reds over seven innings, Francoeur did the damage when he came up with the bases loaded and hit a single. * With agencies