Philadelphia at Houston

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Phillies keep pushing for wild-card spot, defeat Astros with dingers

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- Ryan Howard chose not to dwell on the would-be home run he lost on a blown call. Instead he went out on Sunday and hit one that couldn't be disputed.

Howard hit his major league-leading 57th home run and Mike Lieberthal connected twice as Randy Wolf and the Philadelphia Phillies kept up their push for a wild-card spot by beating Houston 6-4.

Jimmy Rollins also homered as Philadelphia prevented the New York Mets from clinching the NL East. The second-place Phillies, however, are aiming at the wild card and are one game behind Los Angeles for that spot.

Howard's solo homer went to left field in the third inning. A day earlier, Howard hit a drive to left that was ruled a double by umpire Larry Poncino; replays appeared to show a young fan in the front row dropping the ball, and Poncino said after the game that he got the call wrong.

"I wasn't worried today. You can sit there and worry about it or just go out and play," Howard said. "But I'm glad it went out."

Howard tied a team record with 29 road home runs in a season. He's homered in 16 of the 19 parks he's played this year.

Wolf (4-0) won while pitching on three days' rest for the first time in his career. He won his career-best ninth straight decision, the first time a Phillies starter has done that since Steve Carlton in 1980-81.

Wolf said matching a mark of Carlton's was humbling.

"I shouldn't even be mentioned in the same sentence with Steve Carlton," Wolf said. "He was an incredible pitcher and he pitched so many, many years. I think he's got me on more than one level."

But Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was impressed with his effort.

"Wolfy did a very good job," Manuel said. "He got us right where we needed to be. He took us through those first innings."

Tom Gordon worked the ninth for his 31st save in 35 chances, getting Brad Ausmus on a grounder with two runners on base to end it.

The Phillies took all three games in Houston for their first sweep of the Astros since May 2002.

"We're in a lot better position than we were last year and I think everyone knows what it will take to make it," Howard said of the team's playoff hopes. "Everyone in the locker room is confident. This win was huge, especially against a team like Houston because they've beaten us so many times."

Wolf (4-0) blanked the Astros until Craig Biggio homered to lead off the sixth. With the sellout crowd chanting "Bi-ggi-o," he was able to break his 0-for-30 slump.

Wolf gave up another homer, a two-run shot by Aubrey Huff later in the inning that cut the lead to 5-3, before being replaced.

Houston closed to 6-4 on Lance Berkman's home run in the eighth.

Lieberthal homered in the fourth and hit another in the eighth.

The trouble began early for Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez (9-10) when Jeff Conine hit a ground-rule RBI double in the first. Rollins extended Philadelphia's lead to 2-1 when he led off the third with his 21st home run.

Rodriguez allowed six hits and four runs in five innings for his fifth straight loss. He has also had four no-decisions in that span and hasn't won since July 2.

"I felt bad because I really wanted to come out and win this game," Rodriguez said through a translator. "We know we needed it."

The Astros have lost six of their last seven and are 6½ games back in the wild card standings.

"I don't know how to describe how we're playing," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "We're certainly not playing winning baseball when you drop three in a row in a series when you need to when them. But it's not like we're looking to go out and lose either."

Notes

  • The last time the Phillies swept the Astros in Houston was in May 1995 at the Astrodome.
  • Philadelphia is 19-7 in Sunday games this season.
 
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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 Tom Gordon thanks the heavens after his 31st save, keeping Philadelphia in contention.  (AP)
Tom Gordon thanks the heavens after his 31st save, keeping Philadelphia in contention. (AP)

Players of the Game
Philadelphia

M. Lieberthal
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 2
RBI 2
Houston

L. Berkman
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
 

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Philadelphia Phillies
Jimmy Rollins, SS5111004 .274
Shane Victorino, CF4110000 .286
Chase Utley, 2B5010022 .300
Ryan Howard, 1B3111201 .314
Jeff Conine, RF-LF5011013 .269
    Michael Bourn, RF0000000 .000
Pat Burrell, LF3110112 .254
    Geoff Geary, P0000000 .250
   a- Randall Simon, PH1000002 .231
    Tom Gordon, P0000000 .000
Mike Lieberthal, C4232010 .279
Abraham Nunez, 3B2000210 .204
Randy Wolf, P3010003 .222
    Rick White, P0000000 .000
   b- David Dellucci, PH1000001 .292
    Chris Roberson, RF-LF0000000 .205
Totals3661055618 
a-grounded out for Geary in the 9th
b-flied out for White in the 8th
Batting
2B - Jeff Conine (24, Rodriguez), Mike Lieberthal (13, Borkowski), Randy Wolf (2, Rodriguez)
HR - Jimmy Rollins (21, Rodriguez), Ryan Howard (57, Rodriguez), Mike Lieberthal 2 (9, Rodriguez, Springer)
RBI - Jimmy Rollins (72), Ryan Howard (140), Jeff Conine (61), Mike Lieberthal 2 (34)
2-OUT RBI - Ryan Howard (52), Jeff Conine (24)
PK - Pat Burrell (1, Rodriguez)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Pat Burrell 1
Philadelphia Phillies
Randy Wolf (W,4-0) 5.2533252 5.47
Rick White (H,6) 1.1000010 5.25
Geoff Geary (H,13) 1111011 2.99
Tom Gordon (S,31) 1100120 3.15
Pitches-Strikes - Randy Wolf 92-56, Rick White 13-11, Geoff Geary 13-8, Tom Gordon 23-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Randy Wolf 8-3, Rick White 3-0, Geoff Geary 1-1, Tom Gordon 1-0
Batters Faced - Randy Wolf 23, Rick White 4, Geoff Geary 4, Tom Gordon 5
Houston Astros
Craig Biggio, 2B4111010 .244
Chris Burke, CF4010010 .285
Lance Berkman, 1B4121010 .311
Morgan Ensberg, 3B2100200 .229
Aubrey Huff, RF4112012 .265
Jason Lane, LF3000030 .205
   a- Mike Lamb, PH0000100 .308
Adam Everett, SS3000000 .237
   b- Luke Scott, PH1000011 .373
Humberto Quintero, C2010000 .300
   c- Orlando Palmeiro, PH1000000 .229
    Russ Springer, P0000000 .000
    Dan Wheeler, P0000000 .000
   d- Eric Bruntlett, PH1010000 .257
Wandy Rodriguez, P1000000 .081
   e- Charlton Jimerson, PH1000011 .250
    Dave Borkowski, P0000000 .000
    Trever Miller, P0000000 .000
    Fernando Nieve, P0000000 .125
   f- Eric Munson, PH1000000 .201
    Brad Ausmus, C1000002 .226
Totals33474396 
a-walked for Lane in the 9th
b-struck out for Everett in the 9th
c-grounded out for Quintero in the 7th
d-singled for Wheeler in the 9th
e-struck out for Rodriguez in the 5th
f-grounded out for Nieve in the 7th
Batting
2B - Lance Berkman (26, Wolf)
HR - Craig Biggio (19, Wolf), Lance Berkman (41, Geary), Aubrey Huff (18, Wolf)
RBI - Craig Biggio (51), Lance Berkman (122), Aubrey Huff 2 (60)
2-OUT RBI - Lance Berkman (36), Aubrey Huff 2 (22)
Team LOB - 5
Houston Astros
Wandy Rodriguez (L,9-10) 5644253 5.49
Dave Borkowski 1211100 4.52
Trever Miller 0.2000000 3.13
Fernando Nieve 0.1000000 4.03
Russ Springer 1111101 3.72
Dan Wheeler 1100110 2.43
HBP - Victorino (by Trever Miller)
WP - Wandy Rodriguez (6), Dave Borkowski (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Wandy Rodriguez 79-48, Dave Borkowski 25-12, Trever Miller 11-7, Fernando Nieve 2-1, Russ Springer 22-13, Dan Wheeler 12-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Wandy Rodriguez 4-5, Dave Borkowski 2-1, Trever Miller 1-1, Dan Wheeler 1-1
Batters Faced - Wandy Rodriguez 22, Dave Borkowski 6, Trever Miller 3, Fernando Nieve 1, Russ Springer 5, Dan Wheeler 5
Game Information
Attendance - 41170
Game Time - 2:46
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Ron Kulpa, First Base - Dan Iassogna, Second Base - Larry Poncino, Third Base - Lance Barksdale