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Phillies-Astros Preview 2009-09-07


Phillies-Astros Preview 2009-09-07It's been almost 10 years to the day since the Houston Astros swept a four-game series from the Philadelphia Phillies.

With seemingly little to play for down the stretch, the Astros have a chance to do it again in the conclusion of a home series with the NL East leaders Monday.

Despite facing double-digit deficits in both the NL Central and the wild-card races, Houston (66-70) has not given up on the season.

"They keep playing all the time, they don't quit," said Astros manager Cecil Cooper, whose team has won seven of eight at home. "They play hard all the time."

The Astros, who have outscored Philadelphia 16-7 in the first three games of this series, last swept a four game set with the Phillies (77-57) from Sept. 6-9, 1999.

Houston's current surge has also contributed to the Phillies' lead in the East being trimmed to 6 1/2 games over Florida.

"You don't want to lose and lose and lose, especially to a team that's not necessarily in the hunt," Sunday's losing pitcher Cole Hamels told the Phillies' official Web site. "But they're a Major League team, and they're going to battle all the way to the end of the season."

Miguel Tejada had four hits and leadoff hitter Michael Bourn added two and stole a pair of bases against his former team in the Astros' 4-3 victory Sunday.

While Tejada is 6 for 12 with two doubles in the series, Bourn is 4 for 9 with three stolen bases in his last two contests. Bourn leads the majors with 52 steals.

"With the type of speed he has, I think there's a reason he's been such a huge threat and a big player for their team," Hamels said of Bourn, who was sent to Houston in November 2007 in a deal that brought current struggling closer Brad Lidge to Philadelphia.

Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth and Ben Francisco homered Sunday for the Phillies, whose starting pitchers - Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton and Hamels - have a 7.80 ERA in this series.

The Phillies hope NL rookie of the year candidate J.A. Happ (10-4, 2.77 ERA) can better his predecessors while trying to avoid losing a third straight start when he makes his first appearance against Houston.

The left-hander allowed four runs and struck out seven in six innings of a 4-0 loss to San Francisco on Wednesday in his bid to become the first Phillies rookie to win 11 games since Bob Walk in 1980.

Happ has allowed four home runs and has a 4.50 ERA in his last two starts where the Phillies have scored a total of two runs.

"I'm not worried about it," Happ said of the recent lack of run support. "Sometimes you just got to be better than the other guy."

Houston counters with Brian Moehler (8-10, 5.11), who allowed one earned run in 5 1-3 innings, but took the loss in a 4-1 defeat at Chicago on Tuesday.

The right-hander, who hasn't given up more than three runs in any of his last four outings, is 2-3 with a 6.82 ERA in seven starts against Philadelphia.

Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley each have two home runs against Moehler.

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Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: September 7, 2009

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