The Phillies garnered 13 hits, 5 more reached on walks but they scored only 3 runs, 2 in the ninth, and left a ton of runners stranded on Thursday. Lefthander Cliff Lee was solved for 4 Astros runs on 7 hits in 5 2/3rds innings with another run scoring off of Brett Myers in the seventh. The Phils were held off the board until the fifth inning by Felipe Paulino, another possessor of a bloated ERA, and then Astro bullpen held them scoreless until a ninth inning 2 out rally against closer Jose Valverde fell short. The Phillies lost their series final to Houston by a 5-3 score on a shaky playoff tune- up for Lee.
The Phillies rested 2nd baseman Chase Utley and centerfielder Shane Victorino with Eric Bruntlett and Ben Francisco replacing them at their respective positions. Francisco went 3 for 4 with a run scored from the leadoff spot. But Bruntlett, batting 2nd in the order, took an 0 for 5 collar striking out 3 times.
1st baseman Lance Berkman got Houston on the board quickly in the first inning with a 2 run double off of Lee.
Houston led 2-0 as Paulino had an easy time with the Phillies until the fifth when they loaded the bases on a double, single and a walk. Raul Ibanez drove in the Phils 1st run with a single to left. But Paulino got rightfielder Jayson Werth to ground out to end the threat.
Houston got to Cliff Lee in the sixth when he walked 2nd baseman Kao Matsui to open the inning. Shortstop Miguel Tejada followed with a 2 run shot to put Houston up by 4-1. After getting the 1st 2 outs of the inning, Lee gave up a single and a double afterwhich Manuel sent in Clay Condrey to get pinch hitter Aaron Boone on a flyout to left centerfield to avoid any further damage.
Brett Myers came on to pitch the seventh, his first appearance since September 12, and gave up the Astro’s 5th run on 3 hits. Relievers Tyler Walker and lefthander Sergio Escalona finished up the final 2 innings each of them going clean on Houston in their inning of work.
Despite getting 13 hits and having 3 other hitters reach on walks, Houston pitchers had a relatively easy time with the Phils other than in the fifth and ninth innings. The Phils stranded 15 runners in the game.
The team looked sluggish all evening, most likely due to the lingering effects of Bud Light and celebratory champagne, but woke up in the ninth-inning, putting together a two-out rally.
Pinch-hitter Matt Stairs led the inning off with a walk before Astros closer, Jose Valverde, retired both Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez. Jayson Werth followed with a single, which was backed by [Pedro] Feliz’s R.B.I. double, which plated two. The Phillies eventually got the winning run to the plate however Miguel Cairo flew out to end the ballgame.
In related news, AP reports on the status of 2 Phillies relievers for Yahoo sports:
The Phillies received some bad news after the game when the team announced that reliever J.C. Romero would visit New York Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek for persistent pain in his strained left forearm. Romero declined to speak with reporters after the game. Manuel didn’t sound optimistic.
“It’s going to be hard for Romero to go out there and compete,” Manuel said. “We don’t think he’s well yet. I’m waiting to see. I have to go with the guys who are healthy and ready to pitch.”
Reliever Chan Ho Park returned to Philadelphia after feeling discomfort in his right hamstring during a rehab outing in the Florida Instructional League. He will see team doctor Michael Ciccotti on Friday.
Jamie Moyer’s most important pitching performances of the season was also his last.
The 46-year-old lefthander, who helped protect a three-run lead Tuesday night by recording four outs in the sixth and seventh innings to set up Ryan Madson for a six-out save, will have season-ending surgery to repair three torn tendons in his groin and lower abdomen, an injury suffered on his final pitch of the Phillies’ 7-4 win over Houston.
The team doctor, Michael Ciccotti, said he was optimistic that Moyer would be ready to return by the start of spring training, a timetable he said is not uncommon even for a player of Moyer’s age.
For the scores of all of Thursday’s games, click here.
On Friday, the Phillies begin a 3 game series to entertain the Florida Marlins to end the regular season. In Friday’s opener, Joe Blanton prepares for the playoffs opposing Rick VandenHurk. On Saturday, lefthander Cole Hamels tunes up for the playoffs opposing Anibal Sanchez who threw an 8 inning shutout at the Phils in his previous outing against them.