If the Philadelphia Phillies are to remain a serious wild-card contender in the NL, they can't afford to let any more potential victories slip away.
Cole Hamels tries again to match a career high for wins while looking to help the Phillies rebound from a frustrating defeat Friday night when they continue their road series with the lowly Houston Astros .
Riding a season-high seven-game winning streak, Philadelphia (72-72) led 4-0 Thursday before Houston scored three in the fourth inning and three more in the eighth en route to a 6-4 victory. The loss was just the third in 14 games for the Phillies, who dropped four games behind St. Louis for the second and final wild-card spot."The percentages in baseball, sooner or later you are going to get beat," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "At the same time, I didn't mean for it to happen (Thursday). We had a chance to win the game, it was sitting right in front of us. The bottom line is that we didn't add on runs, but we didn't execute either."
Philadelphia would appear to have a good chance to bounce back behind Hamels (14-6, 3.03 ERA), who is 3-0 with a 2.22 ERA in six starts since losing at Washington on Aug. 2. Hamels, who will try a fourth straight time to match the career-high win total he set while going 15-5 in 2007, allowed two runs in seven innings of a 3-2 win over Colorado on Sunday.
The left-hander, however, is 0-3 with a 6.91 ERA in five starts versus Houston after going 3-0 with a 3.14 ERA in his first four.
Philadelphia has won six of nine against the Astros (46-98) but all three of those losses during that stretch have came at Houston. Though the Astros own the majors' worst record, they have won four of seven overall. Jed Lowrie delivered a go-ahead two-run double and Matt Dominguez hit a three-run homer Thursday.
"(The Phillies) come (in) with a lot on the line and we have a chance to kind of derail that and finish the season on a positive note," Thursday's winning pitcher Wesley Wright said.
Scheduled Houston starter Edgar Gonzalez (2-0, 1.74) looks for a third straight winning start since being called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Sept. 3. He's allowed one run in each of those two starts, most recently despite a blister on his foot Sunday at Central Division-leading Cincinnati when gave up two hits in five innings of a 5-1 win.
Pitching for his fourth major league team and back in the majors after toiling in the Mexican League, Gonzalez is surprised with his recent success.
"I'm feeling good," the right-hander said. "I didn't expect two wins but I'm more mature now."
Though Gonzalez is making his first start versus Philadelphia, he has a 15.75 ERA in two relief appearances against the Phillies. The most recent came in 2008 for Arizona.
Philadelphia's Juan Pierre , who had two hits in the opener, is 5 for 10 against Gonzalez and batting .440 (11 for 25) in his last eight games overall.
|September 05, 2012||Placido Polanco||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|August 31, 2012||Raul Valdes||15-Day DL||Torn meniscus in right knee|
|August 29, 2012||Cole Hamels||Day-to-Day||Gastrointestinal illness|
|August 29, 2012||Vance Worley||15-Day DL||Loose bodies in right elbow|
|August 28, 2012||Domonic Brown||Day-to-Day||Left game - left knee soreness|
|August 24, 2012||Brian Schneider||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|September 07, 2012||Jose Altuve||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left abdominal|
|August 30, 2012||Marwin Gonzalez||Day-to-Day||Torn ligament, left ankle|
|August 28, 2012||Bud Norris||Day-to-Day||Left game - blister|
|August 22, 2012||Justin Maxwell||Day-to-Day||Bruised right index finger|
|August 07, 2012||Jordan Schafer||15-Day DL||Left shoulder separation|
|August 07, 2012||Jordan Schafer||15-Day DL||Left shoulder separation|
HOUSTON (AP) -- With one swing of the bat from Jimmy Rollins on Friday night, the Philadelphia Phillies put a tough loss to the Houston Astros a night before behind them.
Rollins hit a leadoff homer, Domonic Brown had a two-run shot and John Mayberry and Ryan Howard each had three RBIs as the Phillies beat the Astros 12-6.
The Phillies rebounded from Thursday night's 6-4 loss to Houston, which broke a seven-game winning streak and left them four games back for the second NL wild-card spot. Friday's win cut it to 3 1/2, with the Cardinals and Dodgers still playing on the West Coast.
"It's huge," Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels said of Rollins' homer. "That's something that Jimmy's done a lot in his career, and when he's able to do that, it really kind of puts the edge into our favor and really gets guys fired up to go out and perform at the highest level. With what we have at stake going on right now, that's what we need."
Rollins' homer keyed a four-run first inning on a night when the Phillies came one run shy of a season high.
"We don't have too many where we can kind of relax," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "At the same time, tonight, that was good for us. Getting some hits and scoring some runs was good for us."
Rollins downplayed the importance of his homer, but did acknowledge that it started the night on a high note.
"That was probably a good thing," he said. "Even better, we didn't stop there. This team plays us tough. Always have, don't know why. Whether they're a team well over .500 or a team well under .500, we show up and we have a problem with them."
A two-run homer by Matt Downs got Houston within 5-3 in the fourth. Mayberry's two-run single in the fifth stretched the lead to 7-3.
Justin Maxwell added a solo shot in the fifth for the last-place Astros.
Hamels (15-6) gave up four runs and seven hits while fanning eight over seven innings, and tied a career high for wins set in 2007. It was the first victory over the Astros for the left-hander in his last five tries, and his first win overall since Aug. 18 after not factoring into the decision in his last three outings.
"If you get four runs off Cole Hamels , then it's a big night offensively," Downs said. "It is always tough to put runs up against a guy like that, but they swung the bats extremely well tonight."
Hamels threw 95 pitches, ending a streak of 14 straight games with at least 100 pitches.
He liked having a big lead before stepping on the mound.
"Just being able to come out and put up the runs early is huge, just because you want to just get the momentum back," Hamels said. "Especially after last night, you want to get things rolling again and get the positive mojo going so we can get back into how we know we've been playing baseball for the last week."
Edgar Gonzalez (2-1), starting in place of Bud Norris - scratched on Thursday because of a blister on the index finger of his throwing hand - needed 32 pitches to get through the first inning and was done after the fourth.
Brown's homer, to the second deck in right field, made it 9-4 in the seventh.
After Rollins homered into the right-field seats for his 42nd career leadoff shot, extending his team record, Juan Pierre drew a walk, stole second base and scored on a single by Chase Utley . Utley swiped second base before making it 3-0 when he scored on a ground-rule double by Howard. Mayberry's two-out RBI single left the Phillies up 4-0.
Mayberry, who finished with three hits, doubled in the fourth and scored on a single by Kevin Frandsen to push the lead to 5-1.
Chuckie Fick walked Utley and Howard with one out in the fifth before being lifted for Fernando Rodriguez . After an intentional walk to Brown loaded the bases, Mayberry's single was deflected by Rodriguez and rolled to second baseman Jose Altuve . Utley and Carlos Ruiz scored before Altuve could get the throw to the plate and the Phillies increased the lead to 7-3.
Utley had an RBI double in the eighth and Howard drove in two runs with a single.
NOTES: Jeff Kent , who played for the Astros from 2003-04, was scheduled to throw out the first pitch on Friday as Houston continues the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the franchise. But Kent was still recovering from breaking four ribs and puncturing one of his lungs in a recent dirt bike accident, so his 9-year-old son Kaeden threw the pitch. Kent is set to appear "Survivor: Philippines," the 25th season of the show, which premieres later this month. "The opportunity came for me to challenge myself and compete and compete socially, which was a challenge in itself," he said of the show. "It was a fun experience." ... Ruiz was the only player in Philadelphia's lineup without a hit Friday.