The Phils lost in sixteen innings last night in a wild affair in which they again struggled to score runs. After losing 4-2 last night the Phils have now scored two runs or less in five of their last six games.

Hamels provided yet another strong outing, but the Phillies found themselves losing 2-1 and down to their last out in the bottom of the ninth before Jimmy Rollins homered to tie the game at 2-2. In the bottom of the fourteenth, Howard had a chance with two outs and men on second and third. He twice tried to check his swing in the at-bat and twice didn’t get the call. The second check swing attempt was called strike three and Howard was out with the side retired. He threw his helmet and was ejected, setting up a situation where pitcher Roy Oswalt played left field for the Phils with Ibanez moved to first. In the top of the sixteenth, a mishandled grounder by Polanco helped the Astros plate a pair of runs charged to a weary David Herndon. The Phils couldn’t get anything done in the bottom of the inning and fell for the fourth time in their last six games.

For the Phils it was the second time in two games that a call by the ump hurt their chances. In Monday night’s game, Michael Bourn was called safe and Manuel ejected after Bourn looked like he may have left the basepaths or been tagged trying to avoid a lunge from Howard.

It’s hard not to feel like Howard’s struggles at the plate are a big part of the recent offensive woes for the Phillies. Last night he went 0-for-7 and struck out five times before being ejected. Since his return from the DL he’s gone 2-for-19 and struck out ten times.

The Phillies are 70-55 on the season after losing to the Houston Astros 4-2 in sixteen innings last night. They remain 2 1/2 games behind the Braves in the NL East. They are tied with the Giants atop the Wild Card race.

Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk. Four of the hits were singles and both runs he allowed scored on a two-run homer by Carlos Lee in the fourth inning. He struck out eight and walked one.

He retired the first four men he faced before Jason Michaels singled with one out in the fourth. Chris Johnson was next and he singled into center, moving Michaels to second. It brought Tommy Manzella to the plate and Hamels got him to hit into a double-play to third to end the frame.

Hamels threw a 1-2-3 third.

Hunter Pence singled to center with one out in the fourth. It brought Lee to the plate and he hit a 1-0 pitch out to left, putting the Astros up 2-0. Hamels got the next to hitters to set the Astros down.

He threw a 1-2-3 fifth.

Pence walked with one out in the sixth and stole second. Hamels got Lee to ground to third to leave Pence stranded.

The lead was cut to 2-1 when Hamels pitched the seventh. He allowed a one-out single to Johnson, but struck out Manzella and Humberto Quintero to leave Johnson at first.

Hamels was due to lead off the bottom of the seventh, so the Phillies hit for him and Romero started the eighth. Bourn reached on a one-out single and Durbin came in to pitch to the righty Angel Sanchez. Durbin got Sanchez to hit into a double-play to end the frame.

Durbin was back to start the ninth. He got the first two batters, with Lee hitting one nearly out that Ibanez caught on the warning track, before hitting Michaels. Durbin walked Johnson after that, but got Manzella on a ground ball to short for the third out.

Lidge threw a 1-2-3 tenth with the score tied at 2-2.

Contreras pitched the eleventh. He allowed back-to-back singles to Pence and Brett Wallace with one out. It put men on first and second for Jason Michaels. The runners were on the move with the count 3-2 when Michaels popped to Utley. Pence was easily doubled off of second to end the frame.

Madson pitched the twelfth, throwing for the third straight day, and allowed a one-out single to Manzella. He struck Jason Castro out for the second out and Anderson Hernandez pinch-hit for the pitcher. Hernandez reached on an infield single, putting men on first and second for Bourn. Bourn grounded to Howard for the third out.

Baez set Houston down in order in the thirteenth.

Herndon pitched the fourteenth, with Schneider taking over behind the plate. He allowed a one-out single to Johnson, but got Manzella to hit into a double-play behind him.

Herndon was back for the fifteenth with Ibanez at first and Oswalt in left after Howard had been ejected. He set Houston down in order, with pitcher Wandy Rodriguez hitting for pitcher Mark Melancon and grounding to the mound for the second out.

He was back for the sixteenth, having thrown two innings and 19 pitches in the game. Pence reached on an infield single with one out and Herndon hit Wallace behind him. A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third and Michaels was walked intentionally to load the bases. Johnson hit a ground ball to third that might not have been two but should have at least been one. Polanco didn’t handle the ball cleanly, then picked it up and threw to first. It wasn’t in time and Pence scored from third to put Houston up 3-2 with one out and the bases still loaded. Manzella was next and hit a ground ball to short. Rollins went to Utley to get the second out of the inning, but everyone else was safe and Wallace scored to make it 4-2. With men on first and third, Herndon walked Castro intentionally to load the bases and pitch to the pitcher Jeff Fulchino. Herndon struck Fulchino out swinging to end the frame.

Would have been nice to have a double-play on the ball that Polanco didn’t handle instead of not getting an out.

Long, long night for the bullpen as the Phils used all seven of their relievers. Madson was pitching for the third straight day and Lidge for the second straight day. Herndon threw 50 pitches in the game, which was a career-high. He has thrown at least 37 pitches in each of his last three appearances.

Madson threw 27 pitches, Durbin 21, Baez 16, Contreras 15, Lidge 14 and Romero seven. My guess would be that Madson and Herndon are the guys who would not be available tonight. That could be a lot worse and the Phils can thank their starting rotation that it’s not. Over the past three games, Oswalt, Blanton and Hamels have combined to throw 21 innings and allow three runs (1.29 ERA).

The Phillies lineup against righty Bud Norris went (1) Rollins (2) Polanco (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Ibanez (7) Victorino (8) Ruiz. Look at that — it’s all eight of the Phillies regulars in the same lineup at the same time.

Polanco singled with one out in the first, but Utley and Howard struck out behind him.

Victorino walked with two outs in the second. He took second on a balk before Ruiz walked. Hamels grounded to short to leave both men stranded.

Utley singled with two outs in the third. Howard hit the ball hard, but Bourn handled it in center for the third out.

The Phils were down 2-0 when they hit in the fourth. Victorino drew another walk with two outs, but Ruiz flew to center for the third out.

The Phils went in order in the fifth.

Werth singled with one out in the sixth. Ibanez was next and he doubled into left. Werth stormed around the bases to score and cut the lead to 2-1. Victorino followed that and reached on an infield single that moved Ibanez to third. Ruiz flew to center to leave both runners stranded.

With Norris still on the mound, Brown hit for Hamels to start the seventh. The Astros called on lefty Tim Byrdak to pitch and Francisco hit for Brown. Francisco flew to center for the first out, but Rollins and Polanco both walked behind him. It put men on first and second for Utley. Rollins tried to steal third and was thrown out for the second out. Polanco took second. Utley flew to center to leave Polanco stranded at second.

Big caught stealing for Rollins crushes the threat. It was the only time he has been caught this year. The Phils burn Brown and Francisco making an out to start the inning.

Ibanez hit a ball to the gap in right center with two outs in the eighth. Bourn had a long run to get to the ball and didn’t pick it up cleanly when he did. The error allowed Ibanez to take third. Victorino flew to right to leave him stranded at third.

Wilton Lopez set down Ruiz and Sweeney, hitting for Durbin, for the first two outs in the ninth. Rollins got ahead in the count and then blasted a 3-1 pitch way out to right, tying the game at 2-2. Polanco grounded to short for the third out.

Werth reached on an infield single with two outs in the tenth, but Ibanez grounded to second behind him.

The Phils went in order in the eleventh, with Valdez hitting for Contreras with two outs and flying out to center.

Utley singled to left with two outs in the twelfth. Howard was next and lined to Wallace at first in foul territory for the third out.

Ibanez walked with one out in the thirteenth. Victorino popped to second and Ruiz struck out swinging to leave him at first.

Polanco singled with two outs in the fourteenth and Utley walked behind him. They took second and third on a wild pitch with Howard at the plate. Howard tried to check his swing 0-1 and looked like he did, but didn’t get the call. He again tried to check his swing 1-2 and looked like he did but was called out swinging. He threw his helmet and was ejected by the third base umpire.

If you were sleeping by the time the fourteenth inning rolled around, the third base umpire had a memorable approach to the at-bat. You can watch it here.

Werth and Ibanez went down to start the fifteenth. The Phils were out of hitters. Victorino got ahead in the count 3-0 and then was put on intentionally ahead of David Herndon. Herndon struck out looking 1-2 to end the inning.

The Phils were down 4-2 when they hit in the sixteenth. Schneider and Rollins went down before Polanco drew a walk. Oswalt, the new left fielder, was in Howard’s spot in the order behind Utley. Utley was walked intentionally, putting men on first and second for Oswalt. Oswalt grounded to third to end the game.

Rollins was 1-for-7 with a huge home run to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth and a walk. He was had a big caught stealing in the seventh. He’s 6-for-his-last-28 (.214).

Polanco 2-for-6 and walked twice. The ball was hit to him on a critical play in the sixteenth and the Phils didn’t get an out. He’s 5-for-his-last-14.

Utley was 2-for-6 and walked twice. 7-for-28 with a 250/364/286 line since coming off the DL.

Top three in the order did their part getting on base. They combined to go 5-for-19 with five walks in the game.

Howard. 0-for-7, five strikeouts, five men left on base. His ejection forced Oswalt into left and Ibanez to play first. He’s 2-for-19 with ten strikeouts since coming off the DL.

Werth 2-for-7 with two strikeouts.

Ibanez 2-for-6 with two doubles, a walk and an RBI. He made his first appearance at first base since 2005.

Victorino 1-for-4 with three walks.

Ruiz 0-for-5 with a walk and left four men on base.

Roy Halladay (16-8, 2.16) faces lefty JA Happ (8-8, 3.54) tonight. Halladay has allowed one run or less in five of his last six starts, throwing to a 1.37 ERA and an 0.93 ratio over those outings. The Phillies won all six of those games. Happ has gone 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA in five starts since being traded to the Astros. Overall he has walked 6.4 batters per nine innings for the season, which is way too many. Opponents are hitting just .215 against him with two home runs in 40 2/3 innings.