Phillies Cool Down Astros With 5-3 Win.

Brett Myers controlled the hot Houston Astros through six-plus innings and the bullpen wasn't exactly dominating, but they did well enough to hang on for the Phillies to get a 5-3 win in their series opener against Houston. The win snapped the Astros seven-game winning streak and saw Jim Thome nearly set a Veterans Stadium record with a long homerun to the right field upper deck.

Larry Bowa would have left Brett Myers (3-2) in to pitch longer, if it wasn't for a little trouble counting to two. After a bad call on a 3-2 pitch to Lance Berkman to start the seventh inning, pitching coach Joe Kerrigan went to the mound to be sure that his young pitcher didn't let the leadoff walk bother him. Later, after Brad Ausmus singled to put runners on first and third with one out, Bowa went to the mound and was apparently talked out of pulling Myers from the game, but since it was the second trip to the mound, Bowa had to make the move. Neither Myers or Bowa appeared happy, but it was the second trip to the mound, meaning that the pitching change was required. Myers allowed six hits in the outing.

Myers started on the wrong foot, giving up a first inning run to Houston. With bases loaded, Hidalgo singled to left to score Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell tried to score from second, but Pat Burrell's throw beat Bagwell to retire the side with the Phillies trailing just 1-0.

Mike Lieberthal, who went 3-for-4, launched his fourth homerun of the season in the bottom of the second off Houston starter Roy Oswalt (2-4) to tie the game. Placido Polanco made it 2-1 in the fifth inning when he singled home Ricky Ledee who had walked and went to second on a single by Jimmy Rollins.

The real fireworks came in the sixth inning. Jim Thome launched a massive homerun to the back row of the 500 level in right field giving the Phillies a 3-1 lead. The homerun was slightly short and to the right of the longest homerun in Veterans Stadium history that was hit by Willie Stargell in 1971. Since Stargell's homerun, a star with an "S" in it has marked where Stargell's blast hit off the exit ramp of the stadium. Thome's blast missed by probably about 40 feet.

Terry Adams relieved Myers with runners on first and third in the seventh inning and promptly hit pinch-hitter Orlando Merced with a pitch to load the bases. Jose Vizcaino then pinch-hit for Oswalt and singled to center to score Hidalgo. Biggio hit a bouncer to third and David Bell threw out Ausmus at home for the second out of the inning. Rheal Cormier then came on to pitch to Geoff Blum and ended the threat by getting a ground ball to short to end the inning with the Phillies leading 3-2. Cormier has now pitched sixteen scoreless innings since getting blasted in his first outing of the season.

Pete Munro relieved Oswalt and the Phillies quickly loaded the bases with one out before Munro exited in favor of Nate Bland. A single by Bobby Abreu scored two runs to give the Phillies a 5-2 edge through seven innings.

Turk Wendell continued his scoreless innings streak with a perfect eighth inning and the Phillies didn't score in the bottom of the inning, setting up Jose Mesa for a save situation with the Phillies leading 5-2. Mesa struggled through the ninth giving up a pinch-hit double to Greg Zaun and then walking Biggio to put runners on first and second with two outs. Mesa then came back to strike out Morgan Ensberg to end the game and record his eleventh save in the Phillies 5-3 win.

The series continues Saturday night with Randy Wolf (4-2, 3.53) going against Wade Miller (1-3, 5.02).

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