Team W-L R R/G NL Rank R OPS (NL) SB CS
               
HOU 27-21 234 4.88 3 747 (7) 54 13
PHI 26-22 232 4.83 4 776 (6) 30 6

Team W-L RA RA/G NL Rank RA Starter ERA Pen ERA
             
HOU 27-21 221 4.60 9 4.68 (13) 3.75 (8)
PHI 26-22 208 4.33 7 4.48 (8) 2.92 (1)

The middle of the Phillies order has been mostly missing in May as the 3-4-5 of Utley, Howard and Burrell have done just about zilch. Not last night, though. Ryan Howard banged the ball around the yard for the second straight game, but the biggest swing of the night came off the bat of Burrell. With the game tied at 5-5 in the eighth, Burrell bounced off the bench and bopped a ball just out to left to put the Phils on top to stay.

The Phils again got great work from their bullpen. The pen gave them four innings and were not charged with a run.

The bad news on the night was a weak start from Kyle Kendrick, whose ERA is over 5.00 for the season, and an injury to Jayson Werth. Werth hurt his right oblique and had to leave early. Losing Werth for a stretch of games would be a big blow to the Phils, forcing Jenkins to play against lefties or Taguchi, Bruntlett or Dobbs to see regular time as a corner outfielder.

The Phillies beat the Houston Astros last night in the first game of a four-game set. They won 7-5 to improve to 27-22 on the year and have won three in a row. Tonight they have a chance to go six games over .500 for the first time this season and win four in a row for the first time this season.

Kyle Kendrick got the start for the Phillies and went five innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and a walk. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, all doubles. He struck out two. His ERA is up to 5.19.

Michael Bourn led off the first with a single. Kendrick got Kaz Matsui on a line out to second before Miguel Tejada hit a ground ball to short. Bourn was forced at second for the first out with Tejada safe at first. The red hot Lance Berkman was next and he smashed a ball just over Dobbs in left for a double. Tejada scored and Houston led 1-0. Carlos Lee crushed the first pitch of his at-bat, but Victorino took it to end the inning.

Kendrick started the second with the game tied at 1-1. Hunter Pence led off with a walk and moved to third when Ty Wigginton followed with a single. Brad Ausmus flew to right for the first out and Pence tagged and scored. Jenkins’ throw home was terrible, up the third base line, but Pence probably would have been safe even if it had been on line. The pitcher Roy Oswalt bunted Wigginton to second, but Kendrick struck out Bourn for the third out.

Up 4-2 in the third, Kendrick gave up a two out single to Berkman. Lee flew to right for the third out.

With one out in the fourth, Wigginton dumped a ball into right-center. Victorino got to it quickly, but his throw to second was off target and Wigginton was safe with a double. Ausmus hit a slow ground ball to short for the second out and Wigginton moved to third. Oswalt grounded out to end the inning.

With the Phils up 5-2 in the fifth, Bourn led off with a single and stole second after Matsui flew to left for the first out. Tejada fouled out to Ruiz and Berkman popped to short. Kendrick had thrown 79 pitches through five innings.

Kendrick hit Lee with a pitch to start the sixth. Pence followed with a single that moved him to second. Wigginton was next and he ripped the first pitch of his at-bat into the left field corner. Both runners scored and the Phils’ lead was cut to 5-4. With the righty Ausmus at the plate, Madson came in to pitch and Ausmus bunted Wigginton to third for the first out. Geoff Blum hit for Oswalt and Romero came in to pitch to the switch-hitter Blum. Blum didn’t have a hit against lefties on the season (0-for-10). He singled into left, of course, and Wigginton scored to tie the game at 5-5. Romero struck out Bourn for the second out and got Matsui to ground to short for the third out.

Durbin started the seventh with the score tied at 5-5. Berkman doubled with one out, but Durbin got Lee to ground to third and Pence to pop to Ruiz in foul territory to leave him stranded.

Gordon threw a 1-2-3 eighth with a 7-5 lead. He has a 1.86 ERA in May after throwing to a 1.80 ERA in April. In his one appearance in March he allowed five runs in a third of an inning (135.00 ERA).

Lidge pitched the ninth with a two run lead. He gave up a two out single to Tejada, which brought up Berkman as the tying run. Berkman flew to left on the first pitch of his at-bat to end the game.

It will be over-shadowed by Burrell’s big swing and Howard’s night, but the bullpen was fantastic for the Phillies again last night. After Kendrick left in the sixth, the pen went four innings without being charged a run. They allowed three hits and didn’t walk a batter. Romero gave up the single to Blum with the run charged to Kendrick, but otherwise they kept the Astros in check for four frames.

Durbin was used in the seventh inning, which is later than we have generally seen him this year.

Manuel has backed off on his use of Romero significantly in April and that’s a very good sign. After making 13 appearances in April, Romero has made just eight in May and they haven’t been particularly good. In 6 1/3 innings he’s thrown to a 4.26 ERA with a 1.89 ERA. Romero was fantastic but overused in the early part of the season. Maybe that’s something that can be remedied with less use and maybe it isn’t. We’ll see. Four days in a row April 29 through May 2 was a poor idea.

Despite having to throw four innings, the only guy to throw more than ten pitches out of the Phillies’ pen last night was Lidge. He threw 13.

Berkman was 3-for-5 with two doubles against the Phils last night. He’s hitting 506/573/935 with eight home runs in 74 at-bats in May. How badly he hurts the Phils is going to be critical in the three remaining games of the set.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Roy Oswalt went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Feliz (6) Jenkins (7) Dobbs (8) Ruiz. The slumping Burrell gets the night off against the tough righty. Dobbs plays left. Jenkins in right, giving the Phils four lefties in five hitters three through seven in the order. Victorino again in center with Werth on the bench. Ruiz catches.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the first.

Down 1-0 in the second, the Phils loaded the bases with nobody out on singles by Howard and Feliz and a walk to Jenkins. Dobbs popped to second for the first out. Ruiz followed with a single into right and everyone moved up a base with Howard scoring to tie the game at 1-1. Kendrick grounded to short and Tejada threw home to force Feliz for the second out. Rollins grounded to third to end the frame.

One run out of bases loaded and nobody out.

Victorino started the third with an infield single and move to second when Utley followed with a walk. Howard doubled into left. Victorino scored to tie the game at 2-2 and Utley went to third. Feliz laced the first pitch of his at-bat back through the middle for a single. Utley scored to make it 3-2 and Howard held third with nobody out. Jenkins hit a fly ball to center. Not very deep, but Howard tagged anyway and Bourn’s throw was ridiculously bad. Howard scored easily and Feliz went to second with the Phils up 4-2. Dobbs and Ruiz both grounded out to leave Feliz stranded.

Rollins doubled to center with one out in the fourth. Victorino and Utley went down behind him.

Howard led off the fifth with a long home run to left that put the Phils up 5-2. Jenkins singled with one out, but Dobbs and Ruiz went down behind him.

Kendrick started the sixth with a single, but Rollins followed and hit into a double-play. Victorino singled before Utley flew to Bourn on the warning track to end the frame.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the seventh.

With lefty Wesley Wright on the mound, Burrell hit for Dobbs to start the eighth. He hit a 3-2 pitch just out to left, putting the Phils up 6-5. Ruiz followed with a walk. Werth was next and grounded to short. Ruiz was forced at second for the first out. Werth clearly had something wrong with his side or lower back, but stayed in the game. A single by Rollins moved Werth to second, where he was replaced by pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett. Victorino popped to short for the second out, but Utley followed and singled into right. Bruntlett scored to put the Phils up 7-5 and Rollins went to third. Howard struck out to end the frame.

Feliz walked to start the ninth. Taguchi grounded to short behind him and Feliz was forced at second. Coste hit for Gordon and singled, putting men on first and second for Ruiz. Ruiz flew to center for the second out and Bruntlett popped to short to leave the runners stranded.

Rollins was 2-for-5 with a double.

Victorino 2-for-5. He’s 5-for-his-last-10.

Utley 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI.

Howard 3-for-5 with a double, a home run and two RBI.

Feliz 2-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. He’s 7-for-his-last-13.

Jenkins 1-for-2 with a walk and an RBI.

Dobbs 0-for-3 and left five men on base.

Ruiz 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI.

Adam Eaton (0-2, 5.59) faces righty Brandon Backe (3-5, 4.58) tonight. Righties are hitting just .240 against Backe, lefties .309. In 55 innings he’s walked 29, which is a lot. He’s also given up ten home runs. He’s been better in his four starts at home, 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA and a 1.48 ratio, than he has away (1-4 with a 5.46 ERA and a 1.66 ratio in six starts). He faced the Phillies once this season, on April 7, and it was his worst outing of the year. The Phils scored six runs on ten hits over just three innings. Eaton hasn’t gotten an out in the sixth inning in any of his last three starts. Over his last three outings he’s allowed 12 runs in 14 innings while walking ten. His walk rate is actually up compared to last season. He faced the Astros once this season and pitched well. On April 15 he held Houston to three runs over six innings.