"I'm throwing better than last year," said Howell, who had 15 saves before the All-Star break (and his injury) in Oakland last season. "I've got more control of my breaking stuff. I think being hurt (last season) made me stay away from throwing breaking balls. I was reluctant to throw them.
"Most of the time, I feel I'm a fastball pitcher. That was my dimension. If I get beat, I'd get beat with (the fastball). But now, my breaking ball, at times, is a better pitch."
The Phillies stole five bases against Dodger catcher Mike Scioscia Saturday night. Four came while Don Sutton was pitching, and the fifth stolen base, in the ninth inning, was against Jay Howell. Scioscia did throw out Milt Thompson trying to steal in the seventh inning. . . . Phillie third baseman Mike Schmidt is mired in an 0-for-27 slump, and Sutton has a theory. "I've got to believe, having watched him over the years, that something's bothering him," Sutton said. "For Mike Schmidt to take the swings he did tonight and not juice the ball, well, maybe there's an injury."
Jeff Hamilton, who has served mainly as a late-inning defensive replacement for third baseman Pedro Guerrero, had his first hit in 13 at-bats in Friday night's 2-1 loss to the Phillies, a pinch single in the sixth inning. Hamilton had been one of only four major league players who had yet to hit safely. "I needed that dunker (to left field)," Hamilton said. "I'm kind of surprised (Manager Tom Lasorda) used me. They usually wait to use me until the late innings (for defense). I'm glad he put me up there to pinch-hit." . . . Hamilton did not play Saturday night.
Relief pitcher Tim Crews, who arrived from the Dodgers' triple-A team in Albuquerque, N.M., Friday and pitched two scoreless innings later that night, said it was important to pitch well in his first outing. "You set the tone with an outing like that and then try to keep it up," Crews said. "I know (Lasorda) has confidence in me from last year and (Friday night) reinforced that."
Pitcher Brad Havens, who has until today to decide either to accept a demotion to Albuquerque or become a free agent and lose the balance of his $185,000 salary, threw in the bullpen several hours before the game.