Philadelphia, PA – The much-anticipated return of Ryan Howard did little to turn around the fortunes of the Philadelphia Phillies as Brain McCann's grand slam was part of a five-run eighth inning that gave the Atlanta Braves a 5-0 win.
The All-Star first baseman and 2006 National League MVP played in his first game since suffering a torn Achilles tendon while making the final out in Philadelphia's series-ending Game 5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Oct. 7.
He doubled in his first at-bat and later singled in a 2-for-4 night, but it didn't matter as the rest of the offense managed just three hits and two walks and the Phillies lost for the eighth time in their past nine games.
"It felt good to be back out there on a big league field," said Howard. "The outcome didn't go the way we wanted to but the rhythm felt good."
Along with McCann's ninth career grand slam, Freddie Freeman drew a bases- loaded walk off of reliever Antonio Bastardo (2-3) in the eighth inning for the Braves, who have won three of their last four.
Tim Hudson (7-4) pitched seven innings and gave up just four hits and a walk in winning his third game in his past four starts.
"He gave us a hell of chance to win the game against a good ball club," said Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez about Hudson.
In the eighth inning, Matt Diaz led off with a single and Michael Bourn followed with a walk. Bastardo got the next two batters out and had Chipper Jones down in the count, but wound up walking him before issuing a five-pitch walk to Freeman to force in the first run of the game. McCann then smacked an 0-1 slider over the center-field wall for a 5-0 lead.
"I lost command of the ball," said Bastardo. "I didn't command my fastball tonight."
The Phils put men on fist and second with one out in the eighth, but Chase Utley struck out and Howard grounded out to second to end the frame.
Chad Durbin worked a 1-2-3 ninth to close out the game for the Braves.
Howard led off the second inning to a roaring applause from the home crowd and smacked a 1-0 pitch to right-center for a double, but was stranded there as the next three batters recorded outs.
Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick, who allowed just four hits and a walk with five strikeouts over his seven innings of work, didn't allow a runner to reach second base until the seventh inning when he got into trouble.
Jones led off the frame with a single and Freeman followed suit with a base hit. Kendrick, though, got McCann to look at strike three, Dan Uggla to foul out and closed the inning with a fielder's choice from Andrelton Simmons.
McCann has two grand slams against the Phillies this season. His other one came on May 2 in a 15-13 11-inning victory...This three-game set continues on Saturday when Joe Blanton will pitch for the Phillies against Tommy Hanson for the Braves...Each team has won twice in the season series...The Phils left seven on base and batted 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.