DENVER – After making a costly double error in the first inning, Ryan Howard told pitcher Roy Halladay how badly he felt. The big first baseman also promised he'd do his best to make up for the mistakes.
Howard was good at his word.
Halladay fought through his own struggles on the mound for his NL-leading 14th victory, Howard drove in four runs with a homer and a double and the Philadelphia Phillies completed a sweep of the Colorado Rockies with an 8-6 win Wednesday.
"It was nice to be able to see him have a good game offensively like that. You know at least he's going to feel a lot better about it, and it made a big difference," Halladay said.
The victory was the sixth in a row for the team with the best record in the majors.
After striking out with the bases loaded and no outs in the top of the first, Howard's misplays quickly followed. He bobbled Dexter Fowler's grounder, allowing him to reach, and then botched the throw to Halladay, covering first, to allow Eric Young Jr. to score. Fowler came home on Troy Tulowitzki's sacrifice fly.
"I just kind of rushed it," Howard said.
"I saw the ball go in my glove and then I kind of picked my head up and took my eye off the ball. Key lesson for all the kids out there: Never take your eye off the ball."
And this pointer, too: Stay focused.
"You've got to stay in the game," Howard said. "I tried to do what I could to try to make up for it, and I was able to get a couple of key hits, some RBIs and get some runs back."
Halladay (14-4), pitching in his hometown, said errors are part of the game and he didn't dwell on the ones by Howard.
"Those things happen, and (Howard) came up to me after the inning and obviously, he didn't feel good about it," Halladay said. "But you know those guys are giving you everything they've got."
In the end, Howard helped in a big way bail Halladay out of a rare sub-par outing.
Halladay allowed five runs on eight hits in seven innings. He struck out seven and walked one.
"I definitely had to work at it and it's one of those games that you're glad that we kept scoring runs," Halladay said. "That's part of pitching as well. Sometimes those give you the best feeling. Afterward, you know it wasn't easy."
Brad Lidge got three outs for his first save of the season after being reinstated from the disabled list late last month. Four of his five appearances, including his latest outing, have been scoreless since his return July 25 from a right rotator cuff strain.
It was the third homer in two games for Howard, whose two-run double capped a four-run outburst in the second. The Phillies were hanging on to a 6-5 lead in the sixth when Howard followed Chase Utley's two-out single with a drive into the center-field bleachers off reliever Rex Brothers for his 24th home run of the season.
Howard hit two solo homers in Philadelphia's 5-0 victory over the Rockies the night before. The Phillies' only previous sweep in a series of three or more games at Colorado came May 7-9, 1999, when Philadelphia also went 3-0.
The Rockies were swept in a home series for the first time this season.
Jason Hammel (6-11) gave up six runs on eight hits in five innings in taking the loss, which was the Rockies' fourth straight.
"This one's on me," Hammel said. "I thought the guys played great today. To get four, five runs off Halladay, that's a big deal. And for us not to capitalize on it, for myself not throwing strikes, one big inning hurt us."
Hammel walked the first three batters he faced but limited the damage by fanning Howard and Raul Ibanez around Hunter Pence's sacrifice fly.
NOTES: The Phillies are 19-4 in Halladay's 23 starts this season. ... Philadelphia, in the midst of a 20-game stretch without a day off, has gone 10-3 so far. ... Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez, on the 15-day disabled list with strained right wrist ligaments, was scheduled to begin a three-game rehab assignment with the team's Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs. He's expected to rejoin the Rockies on Saturday and, barring a setback, could be reinstated from the DL. ... The Phillies head to San Francisco to open a three-game series against the defending World Series champions. LHP Cliff Lee (10-7) is slated to start Thursday night's opener and will be looking to build on an impressive career regular-season record against the Giants. He's 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA but last started against the Giants in the regular season on July 31, 2009, when he threw a four-hitter at San Francisco. ... Young has stolen a base in four of his last five games. ... Mark Ellis' third-inning single snapped an 0-for-25 skid.