JA Happ is the most recent former Phil to shut the team down. Last night he got the win as he held the Phillies to a pair of runs over 6 1/3 innings. For the Phillies it’s the sixth time in seven games that they have scored two runs or less.
Hunter Pence homered off of Halladay in the fourth to put the Astros up 1-0, but Werth tied things up with a solo shot of his own in the fifth. A Michael Bourn homer gave Houston a 2-1 lead in the sixth, but the Phils got even again in the bottom of the inning on an RBI-double by Polanco. The Phils missed big chances to add more runs in both the sixth and seventh — in the sixth Utley popped to second with one out and a man on third and Francisco was picked off of third base to end the seventh. It cost them, too, because the Astros managed to pull ahead 3-2 with a run in the seventh on a double and a single and the Phils didn’t manage to plate another run in the game.
The Phillies are 70-56 on the season after losing to the Astros 3-2 last night. They have lost three in a row and five of their last seven. The division-leading Braves have been just as bad — they’ve also lost three in a row and five of their last seven and allowed the Phils to stay 2 1/2 games behind in the division. In the same way, the Giants and Cardinals haven’t taken control of the Wild Card race despite the slump for the Phils. The Phillies remain tied with the Giants in the chase for the Wild Card with St Louis a game back. San Francisco is 4-6 over their last ten games and the Cardinals are 3-7.
Halladay got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing three runs on six hits. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and two home runs. He struck out six and the Phillies lost a game he started for the first time in seven outings.
Halladay was perfect through three and started the fourth with the game still scoreless. He got the first two hitters to start the fourth before Hunter Pence hit a 2-0 pitch out to left center field, putting the Astros up 1-0. Halladay struck Carlos Lee out behind Pence for the third out.
Chris Johnson started the fifth with a single, but Halladay got Brett Wallace to hit into a double-play behind him. Humberto Quintero followed that with a single before Tommy Manzella grounded to third for the third out.
The game was tied at 1-1 when Halladay started the sixth. He got Happ to pop to third before Michael Bourn homered to right to put Houston up 2-1. Halladay struck out Anderson Hernandez and Pence behind Bourn to set the Astros down.
The Phils tied the game up in the bottom of the sixth. Halladay got Lee on a fly ball to center for the first out in the seventh before Johnson doubled to right. Wallace popped to Sweeney at first for the second out. Quintero was next and he singled to left, scoring Johnson to put Houston up 3-2. Halladay struck Manzella out for the third out.
Contreras threw a 1-2-3 eighth. He was pitching for the second straight day after throwing 15 pitches in Tuesday’s game. He has allowed one run in 11 2/3 innings over his last 13 appearances.
Durbin threw a 1-2-3 ninth, also pitching for the second straight day. He threw 21 pitches on Tuesday.
Sixteen pitches last night for Durbin and 14 for Contreras. If either of them pitched this afternoon it would be for the third straight day. Herndon is almost surely unavailable today after throwing 50 pitches on Tuesday.
The Phillies lineup against lefty JA Happ went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Polanco (4) Utley (5) Werth (6) Sweeney (7) Francisco (8) Ruiz. Sweeney and Francisco in the lineup against the lefty with Howard and Ibanez on the bench. Victorino moves up to second in the order with Polanco and Utley dropped down.
The Phils went in order in the first.
Utley walked to start the second. Werth struck out behind him for the first out before Sweeney hit into a double-play.
The Phils went in order in the third.
Down 1-0 in the fourth, Victorino drew a one-out walk. Polanco struck out and Utley lined to right to leave him stranded at first.
Werth lined a 1-0 pitch out to left to start the bottom of the fifth, tying the game at 1-1. The Phils went in order behind him.
The Phillies trailed 2-1 when Halladay started the sixth with a single into center. Rollins flew to left for the first out before Victorino moved Halladay to second with a single. Polanco was next and lined a 2-1 pitch into left and over the head of Lee for a double. Halladay scored from second, tying the game at 2-2, and Victorino went to third. Utley popped to second for the second out and Werth grounded out to leave the runners stranded at second and third.
No RBI for Utley with one out and a man on third.
The Phils were losing 3-2 when Sweeney started the seventh with a single into center. Francisco was next and grounded to third, with Sweeney forced at second for the first out. Ruiz moved Francisco to second with a single to left before Ibanez flew out to center. Francisco tagged and took third on the ball hit by Ibanez, but Quintero picked him off of third after pitcher Mark Melancon delivered a 2-2 pitch to Rollins.
That would have been a fantastic time not to get picked off of third.
Brandon Lyon set the Phillies down in order in the eighth.
He was back for the ninth and struck out Utley and Werth to start the inning. Howard hit for Sweeney against the righty and delivered a two-out single into center. Francisco was due to hit for the Phils and Manuel called on Brown to hit for him. Lyon struck Brown out swinging at a 1-2 pitch to end the game.
Rollins was 0-for-4 in the game.
Victorino 1-for-3 with a walk.
Polanco 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
Utley was 0-for-3 with a walk. He had a big at-bat in the sixth with a runner on third and less than two outs and he flew to the second baseman in short right field with the runner holding third. He’s 7-for-31 since his return with six singles and a double.
Werth was 1-for-4 with a walk and his 17th home runs of the year. He has hit 359/447/558 over his last 150 plate appearances.
Sweeney was 1-for-3 with a single. He’s hitting 243/270/317 in 37 at-bats for the Phils for the year.
Francisco 0-for-3 and was picked off of third in a big play in the seventh. He’s 2-for-his-last-17 (118/167/235).
Kyle Kendrick (8-6, 4.58) faces lefty Wandy Rodriguez (9-12, 4.00) this afternoon. Kendrick has been hit hard in two of his last three starts, pitching to a 6.32 ERA in those outings while opponents hit .348 against him. He still can’t get lefties out — they are hitting 321/380/566 against him for the season. On the plus side, the Phillies have scored about 5.75 runs per game in the games he’s started this season. That’s a big part of the reason they’re 14-10 in his games and just 13-13 when Hamels starts. Rodriguez has allowed two earned runs or less in six starts in a row, throwing to a 1.09 ERA and an 0.92 ratio in those outings while striking out 48 in 41 1/3 innings.