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September 17 2006

Are ya ready for some baseball?

The day wasn't a complete loss for Philadelphia sports fans.  Far from it.  The Phillies finally got the sweep they needed, and it came against a team they've been unable to beat the past two season.  The Philliles won today on the strength of a solid start from Randy Wolf and four solo homers, two of which came off the bat of Mike Lieberthal. 

The Phillies beat the Astros this afternoon, winning 6-4 to improve to 77-72 on the year.  The Phils have won five of their last six and go for four in a row tomorrow night at home against the Cubs.

Randy Wolf got the start for the Phillies after getting hit hard on Wednesday and throwing just 52 pitches against the Braves in Atlanta.  He went 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks.  Three of the five hits went for extra-bases, a double and two home runs.  Manuel left him in one batter too long, but he pitched better than his line.  He was very strong early in the game, allowing just two hits in five shutout innings before the Astros put up three against him in the sixth.

After getting the first two hitters in the bottom of the first, Lance Berkman doubled to left and Morgan Ensberg followed with a walk.  Wolf got Aubrey Huff to ground to first to end the inning.

Wolf set the Astros down 1-2-3 in the second, third and fourth.  In the fifth he got the first two hitters before Humberto Quintero singled to center.  Wolf struck out pinch-hitter Charlton Jimerson to end the inning with the Phillies up 4-0.

Biggio led off the sixth with a home run that cut the Phillies lead to 5-1.  Chris Burke followed with a ball hit down the third base line, but the Phillies got a break when the ball kicked right to Burrell who made a great throw to nail Burke at second for the first out of the inning.  Berkman grounded to first for the second out of the inning.  Manuel let Wolf stay in to pitch to the lefty Huff and Huff hit Wolf's 92nd pitch of the day out to left to make it a 5-3 game.  The 92nd pitch would be both the last and one too many for Wolf, Manuel pulled him and Rick White struck out Jason Lane to end the inning.

White returned to pitch the seventh and put Houston down 1-2-3.

Geoff Geary came on to pitch the eighth with the Phillies up 6-3.  He got the first two men he faced before Lance Berkman homered to make it 6-4.  Geary got Ensberg to fly to right to end the inning.

Flash Gordon pitched the ninth with the Phils still up 6-4.  Gordon struck out Huff to start the inning but then walked Mike Lamb.  The Astros called on the hot bat of lefty Luke Scott to pinch-hit, but Gordon struck him out for the second out of the inning.  Eric Bruntlett pinch-hit for the pitcher and singled to center, bringing the winning run to the plate with runners on first and second and two down.  Ausmus was up and he hit a ground ball up the middle, but Rollins made a nice play and a nice throw to nail the less than fleet of foot Ausmus and end the game.

Against lefty Wandy Rodriguez the Phillies lineup went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Conine (6) Burrell (7) Lieberthal (8) Nunez.  Conine hits fifth against Burrell against the lefty, which is a bad idea for all the same reasons it was the last time Manuel did it.  Nunez and not Hernandez plays third against the lefty.  Sigh.

With one out in the first., Victorino singled but Utley followed and struck out for the second out of the inning.  Howard walked on a wild pitch that allowed Victorino to got to third.  Conine followed with a ground-rule double that scored Victorino with Howard moving to third and the Phillies up 1-0.  Burrell struck out.  Burrell at least swung at the first pitch this time, fouling it off before taking strike two to put him in an 0-2 hole.

The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the second.  Rollins led off the third with his 21st home run of the year, putting the Phillies up 2-0.  Victorino grounded to third and Utley struck out.  Howard homered to left, number 57 on the year, extending the Phillies lead to 3-0.  How many home runs do you think Howard would hit if he played for Houston?  A lot seems like a good guess.  Conine popped to third to end the inning.

Burrell led off the fourth with a walk and was promptly picked off first on a snap throw by Houston's catcher Humberto Quintero.  Awful play by Burrell and it cost the Phillies a run when Lieberthal followed with a home run.  4-0 Phillies.  Nunez struck out for the second out of the inning, but Wolf followed with a ground-rule double into the corner in right.  Rollins grounded to short to end the inning.

The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the fifth.  Conine grounded out to short to start the sixth.  Burrell followed with a single into center and Lieberthal ripped a ball into right-center that bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double.  The Astros pitched around Nunez, who walked to load the bases for Wolf.  Wolf flew out to shallow right, with the runners unable to advance.  With Rollins at the plate, Burrell was able to score on a wild pitch, putting the Phillies up 5-0 before Rollins grounded to second to end the inning.

Victorino led off the seventh and was hit by a pitch.  Utley flew out for the first out and Howard grounded back to the pitcher, with the Astros forcing Victorino at second.  Conine flew to left to end the inning.

With one out in the eighth, Mike Lieberthal hit his second home run of the day and ninth of the season.  The solo shot gave the Phillies a 6-3 lead.  Nunez followed with a walk, but the pinch-hitter Dellucci and Rollins both went down to leave him stranded.

In the ninth, Victorino flew out to center to start the inning.  Utley singled and Howard followed with a walk, putting runners on first and second with one down for Conine.  Conine struck out.  Burrell should have been next, but Roberson had come on to play defense for Burrell in the eighth.  Simon pinch-hit for Roberson and hit a hard ground ball to first, but Berkman handled it to end the inning.

Rollines was 1-for-5 with an RBI and left four men on base.

Victorino was 1-for-4.

Utley was 1-for-5 and struck out twice.

Howard hit his 57th homer.  He was 1-for-3 with two walks.  22 homers in his last 165 at-bats.

Conine was 1-for-5 with an RBI.

Burrell was 1-for-3 with a walk.

Liebrthal was 3-for-4 with a double and two home runs.  He's 8-for-his-last-12 with two doubles and three home runs.

Nunez was 0-for-2 with two walks. 

Jon Lieber faces Sean Marshall tomorrow night in Philly.

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