Phillies rally late to avoid sweep by Giants |

Phillies rally late to avoid sweep by Giants

SAN FRANCISCO – Ryan Howard’s throw home wasn’t perfect. Brian Schneider made up for it with a spot-on tag of Juan Uribe to save the tying run.

Once Tim Lincecum finally left the game, the Philadelphia Phillies got going at last.

Wilson Valdez doubled home the go-ahead run in the 11th inning, Jayson Werth’s three-run double with two outs in the ninth rallied Philadelphia after Lincecum exited, and the Phillies beat the San Francisco Giants 7-6 on Wednesday to avoid their first sweep of 2010.

What a much-needed boost heading home for a huge series with the first-place New York Mets this weekend.

Howard snapped a career-high 65 at-bat homerless streak in the fifth when he sent the first pitch from Lincecum into the left-field seats. It was Howard’s first homer since agreeing Monday to a $125 million, five-year contract extension.

“I don’t really care (about the drought),” the slugger said. “It’s nice to get one. It’s nice to get hits.”

Lincecum, the two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, struck out 11 in outdueling Cole Hamels and was poised to win his fifth straight start to begin the year until closer Brian Wilson blew it.

Nate Schierholtz had an RBI double in the bottom of the 11th for his career-high fifth hit but it wasn’t enough on a day the Giants stranded 16 baserunners.

Ryan Madson (1-0) pitched one inning for the win despite allowing an RBI single to Andres Torres in the bottom of the 10th, Torres’ third RBI of the game. Nelson Figueroa finished for his first career save.

Schierholtz’s 11th-inning double moved Juan Uribe – aboard on a pinch-hit single – to third and brought up Eugenio Velez. He grounded into a fielder’s choice to first and Howard threw home to Schneider to save the tying run on a close call at the plate.

Howard said Schneider “bailed me out.”

“My goal was just to spin and hit the front of the plate. The guy will come to you,” Schneider said.

The Phillies added an insurance run in the 11th on Velez’s fielding error in left when he dropped a routine fly by Shane Victorino.

Schneider scored for Philadelphia in the top of the 10th on a wild pitch. Sergio Romo (0-2) was the loser.

The homer by Howard was just the second of the year allowed by Lincecum, and Howard’s three career clouts against the Giants’ ace are the most by anyone.

Lincecum had thrown 98 pitches when he went out to start the ninth but was done after a one-out walk to Victorino on four pitches. Fans booed when manager Bruce Bochy removed the right-hander. Wilson then blew his first save in five chances.

“It would have been nice (to finish),” Lincecum said. ‘I still felt strong, nothing to say I couldn’t continue. It can be frustrating. But it was exciting to see our hitters battle back. It’s a tough-luck loss.”

The last thing Bochy wants to do is overwork his ace, and that’s how he defended the decision – not to mention Wilson has been reliable lately.

“These aren’t easy decisions. There will be other times. We have to take care of this kid,” Bochy said.

Lincecum and Hamels combined for 21 strikeouts. Torres drew a go-ahead, bases-loaded walk from Hamels in the sixth and also hit a tying RBI double in the fifth, but the bullpen couldn’t keep a 4-1 lead.

Lincecum struck out the side in the second and reached double digits in strikeouts for the 21st time and the second this year. Hamels did so for the 13th time and first in 2010.

After Torres’ walk in the sixth, Edgar Renteria followed with a two-run single.

Howard hit a two-out double to right in the seventh, sliding in to make sure he was safe after Schierholtz threw him out when he slowed up on a similar play during a 6-2 loss Tuesday night.

“There was no shot of me standing up,” Howard said. “I kind of heard it, too, from the crowd. … Everybody in the whole vicinity had a little laugh about it.”

The reigning NL champion Phillies avoided their first four-game skid since dropping four straight at Houston last Sept. 4-7. They fell out of at least a share of first place in the NL East for the first time all season Tuesday night and wrapped up a disappointing 4-5 road trip.

“Especially to finish up the road trip 4-5, it’s definitely better than the alternative, so we’ll take the positives away and go home,” Werth said. “We’ve got a lot of baseball left to play so we’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing.”

Lincecum retired the first 10 batters of the game before Placido Polanco lined a one-out single to right in the fourth. Chase Utley then grounded into an inning-ending double play, so Lincecum faced the minimum through four.

Utley singled off Wilson for hit No. 1,000 of his career.

Notes: Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins has begun jogging again, but wasn’t sure when he would start true running as part of his recovery from a strained right calf that landed him on the disabled list April 14. “I’m not going to rush it this time. I rushed it last time,” he said in reference to an ankle injury in 2008. “But we won a World Series.” … Several Giants players, including slugger Pablo Sandoval, were headed to “Homecoming Night” hosted by the Class-A San Jose team to honor those players who have gone on from that club to reach the big leagues. … Injured Giants 2B Uribe, who hasn’t started since exiting early in Saturday night’s game against St. Louis, expects to return to the lineup Friday night against Colorado after Thursday’s day off. “I’m much better,” he said. “Not quite 100 percent, but close.”

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