Werthy of praise

Werthy of praise

PHILADELPHIA -- Werthy.

The word slips off the tongues of Jayson Werth's teammates as one of two preferred nicknames, a 1-A to the 1-B of "J-Dub."

On Friday, "Werthy" was worthy of a historic evening. The center fielder stroked three homers and drove in eight runs, both career highs, in the Phillies' 10-3 victory over the Blue Jays.

"They say that home runs are accidents," Werth said. "I hope I have about 20 more accidents this year."

In tying a franchise record for RBIs in a game -- joining Kitty Bransfield, Gavvy Cravath, Willie "Puddin' Head" Jones and Mike Schmidt -- and homers in a nine-inning affair, Werth entered into some elite company.

"I was a cameraman for the Jayson Werth show today," Ryan Howard said. "I had Camera 2 on second base and watched the whole thing unfold. It was fun to watch. When he hit a line-drive home run to left-center for his third homer, that was impressive. In order to hit them to different fields like that, you have to be pretty locked in."

With a homer off Jays reliever Brian Tallet in the seventh inning, Werth would have become the 16th player in Major League history to homer four times in a game. Carlos Delgado was the last player to do it, on Sept. 25, 2003, when he was a member of the Blue Jays. Mike Cameron also hit four on May 2, 2002, and that night was witnessed by Jamie Moyer, the Phillies' starting pitcher and winner on Friday.

Werth acknowledged thinking about the feat on the way to the plate in the seventh inning.

"I was aware of what was going on in the game," Werth said. "I knew where I was at. With the game being where it was, I went up there with one thing on my mind. I wanted to do it again. But whenever you go up there trying to do it, you never can. But it was a great night and a lot of fun."

Facing Tallet for that final at-bat, Werth watched a changeup go down the middle for strike one. Tallet then missed outside with two cut fastballs. Werth fouled the next pitch off, despite the fact that it almost hit him.

The fifth pitch was below the knees for a ball, and the sixth was fouled off. Finally, on a changeup, Tallet induced a foul popup to first.

"With the way he was swinging, if the guy leaves anything up over the plate, it doesn't stand a chance," Howard said. "If it doesn't go out, it's going to be hit hard somewhere. [Tallet] threw him a changeup and got him to pop up."

Howard knows something about this, having homered three times off Braves right-hander Tim Hudson in his first three at-bats on Sept. 3, 2006. He also remembered thinking about going for No. 4 as well.

"By then, you're locked in," Howard said. "You're looking for a mistake up, hopefully over the middle of the plate. The way your swing is that day, if he leaves it up, there's a possibility of four.

"You know everybody in the crowd is thinking that, but you have to calm yourself down, because [if] you start trying for a home run, it's not going to happen. But [three] is definitely a fun experience. It's something you never really dream of or think of. I heard Werthy say it happened so fast that he didn't realize."

Werth's accomplishments resonated in a quiet visitors' clubhouse, where a few of the right fielder's former teammates remembered the guy who played in Toronto from 2002-03.

"Jayson has power, he always did," Jays center fielder Vernon Wells said. "I've played against him and played with him since '97, and he's always had ability. He just never got the chance to prove it. That's all the guy needs. He was certainly locked in tonight. When you're locked in, there's nothing that can get by you. It didn't matter where we pitched him, he was going to make the most of it."

Added Shannon Stewart: "I always thought Jayson was a good player. He just needed to get the opportunity to prove himself. The guy has the talent. The Phillies are letting him prove it. There are a lot of talented players who don't get a chance. Look what Jayson did tonight. Actually, look what he's been doing."

He's been "Werthy."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.