PHILADELPHIA — The new rule designed to protect catchers helped the Philadelphia Phillies gain a victory.
Ryan Howard homered in his second game since a three-game benching and scored the go-ahead run on an overturned call at the plate in Philadelphia’s 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.
Arizona’s Miguel Montero was called for blocking the plate before he had the ball and leaving Howard no path, a violation of an experimental rule put in place this season.
"What am I supposed to do? Leave the ball go and get it, or stand still?" Montero recalled telling umpires. "The throw took me there. I went and got the ball. I have no clue where to go on this kind of a play.
I’d much rather be run over. It’s an awkward rule. Let the game alone. It’s been this way for 100 years. It’s kind of not fun anymore."
With the score 2-2 in the sixth, Howard walked with two outs against Vidal Nuno (0-2). Marlon Byrd popped up to short right field, where second baseman Didi Gregorius backpedaled slowly, settled under the ball and allowed it to kick off his glove and bounce toward center.
Ender Inciarte picked up the ball and threw to the plate, where Montero was blocking Howard’s path, grabbed the throw on the fly and tagged the runner as Howard tried to get around him on the infield side.
Umpire Dale Scott signaled out, but after a review of 2 minutes, 55 seconds, Howard was ruled safe.
That interpretation of collision rule missed spirit of the rule. Howard had no path. But when you're out by 20 feet you can't be called safe
"This year that’s a run," said Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg, who called his team "very fortunate."
"In the last 100 years, it’s not a run," he said.
Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson, who came onto to the field to speak with Scott after the video review, said "the rule has to be reevaluated."
"I didn’t think they got the play right," Gibson said.
In the first season of expanded video review, the plate-blocking rule has been among the most contentious of the innovations.
"There’s a lot of judgment there and a little bit of confusion," Sandberg said. "Even 3-1/2 months into the season, here the catcher did not know that he couldn’t stand there the whole time. And then, ultimately, Howard didn’t know his responsibilities as he got to home plate."
Howard hit a two-run homer in the first, his 16th of the season but second since June 19. He is 3 for 8 since his benching.
"These are a couple of games he can build on and continue to contribute and improve and help the team out," Sandberg said.
Philadelphia added a run in the seventh when left fielder David Peralta dropped Ben Revere’s fly to the warning track, and Montero was given an error for dropping shortstop Nick Ahmed’s throw and allowing Wil Nieves to score.
Montero admitted the earlier play at the plate had an effect on him in the seventh.
"I thought, ‘What should I do?’" he said. "They make it very hard."
Roberto Hernandez (5-8) allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings. He had been 0-5 in seven home starts since beating Washington 1-0 on May 4.
"He got groundballs when he needed them, and he threw enough pitches around the zone and got some hitters to swing the bat," Sandberg said.
Jonathan Papelbon pitched a two-hit ninth for his 25th save in 28 chances.
Nuno, making his fourth start since he was acquired from the New York Yankees, gave up four runs — two earned — four hits and three walks in 6-2/3 innings.
Nick Ahmed doubled in a run for Arizona in the second, and Paul Goldschmidt hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
Arizona’s Aaron Hill didn’t play after being hit on the right hand on Saturday night.