CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — This year already is going a lot better for Ryan Howard than 2012 did.
Howard hit his first home run of spring training, an opposite-field drive to left off All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel that helped the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves 10-5 Thursday.
Howard put the Phillies ahead with an RBI double in the first against loser Paul Maholm.
He didn’t play until July last year while recovering from a torn left Achilles tendon sustained in the Phillies’ final game of the 2011 playoffs. Howard has started all six of Philadelphia’s exhibition games this year and is 8 for 15 (.533) with three doubles and a homer.
“He was totally relaxed and stayed on the ball, went with it,” Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said of the home run. “The ball was out away from him and he just stayed on it, went with it.”
Every position player in the Phillies’ starting lineup had a hit except for Jimmy Rollins. Howard, Chase Utley, Ben Revere and Darin Ruf all went 2 for 3, and John Mayberry Jr. homered against Cristhian Martínez in the sixth.
In his second start, Cole Hamels allowed one run — unearned — and four hits in three innings. Hamels struck out four of his first seven batters and finished with five strikeouts and no walks.
“It was good,” Hamels said. “I’m just building up, starting the process of trying to get the pitch count up. Obviously the endurance to be out there, it’s all going to come.”
Maholm gave up five runs, six hits and two walks in 2 2-3 innings.
Chris Johnson hit a solo homer in the sixth off Jonathan Pettibone, who gave up a three-run drive to Tyler Pastornicky in the seventh.
In the first meeting of the two teams this spring, Atlanta brought their new outfield trio of Jason Heyward and the Upton brothers, Justin and B.J. They combined to go 2-for-9, with Justin Upton doubling off the center-field wall in the first.
“With the players they have in Philadelphia, they’re all established guys,” Heyward said. “They have veteran experience. They’ve been to the World Series. They’ve shown they can win it, and win year after year. When they’re healthy, they’re a really dangerous team.”
NOTES: Philadelphia RHP Mike Adams made his spring training debut with the Phillies, throwing a scoreless fourth. Adams allowed one hit and struck out one. … SS Freddy Galvis made his second error in as many days. Galvis also went 2-for-2 with a double and an RBI. … Justin Upton is 4-for-10 with two doubles and a home run in eight games.