Howard Helps Power Phillies Past Giants

The Associated Press
Monday, May 7, 2007; 2:10 AM

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ryan Howard needed a big hit to get going again during a rough road trip, and the reigning NL MVP found an ideal target: the kid known as "Franchise" making his major league debut.

Howard welcomed Tim Lincecum to the big leagues with a two-run homer and Shane Victorino also took Lincecum deep with a two-run shot in the Philadelphia Phillies' 8-5 win over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday night.

"I'll remember how far those balls went and what not to throw in those counts," Lincecum said when asked what he'll take from this first outing.

Jimmy Rollins had a go-ahead triple in the sixth, and Philadelphia salvaged a split of its four-game series.

Howard's third-inning drive was his fifth homer of the year and just his third hit in seven games. The slugger, whose painful left quadriceps muscle is affecting his push-off leg when at the plate, is batting .136 (3-for-22) during this trip heading into a three-game series at Arizona.

Cole Hamels (4-1), the Phillies' own talented young pitcher, struck out nine to win his second straight start and also had a double in the sixth for his second hit of the year and first for extra bases. Rollins followed with his third triple of the series off reliever Vinnie Chulk (0-2).

The 22-year-old Lincecum, a hard-throwing righty selected 10th overall in the 2006 draft, struck out five and walked five. He allowed five runs _ four earned _ and five hits in 4 1-3 innings. He went 4-0 with a 0.29 ERA in five starts for Triple-A Fresno, allowing one earned run in 31 innings, and was called up sooner than the organization planned only a year after he was in college. He made eight starts at two levels of A-ball last year.

"He's going to be fine," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I'll tell you, that stuff's electric. He made a couple of mistakes but he showed what a great arm he's got."

He became the fourth player from last year's draft to reach the majors, joining Detroit's Andrew Miller, Joe Smith of the New York Mets and Seattle's Brandon Morrow.

Lincecum spent spring training in big league camp, so the Giants expected him to be comfortable and unfazed right away. He is the fifth-fastest drafted Giants player to reach the big leagues. His father, Chris _ the man who taught the 5-foot-11, 170-pounder his unique delivery _ was in the stands for the game.

"I'll trade for him if they want to trade," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He's a top-notch major league prospect."

Victorino hit his first homer of the year in the first following a leadoff single by Rollins. Howard connected two innings later after a two-out walk to Chase Utley. The Phillies provided the power on a night San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds had off to rest a day after hitting his 744th career homer.

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