Houston will look to extend its season-high winning streak to eight games when it meets the Philadelphia Phillies in the opener of a three-game series at Veterans Stadium.
The Astros are also hoping Blum can continue his recent surge. The third baseman has hits in five straight at-bats and has reached base in eight of his last nine.
He went 3-for-3 and scored the go-ahead run in Thursday’s 6-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, helping the Astros complete a four-game sweep.
“Blum has been swinging the bat extremely well lately,” Astros manager Jimy Williams said. “He has been playing very good on both sides of the line. He got one of those two-out hits with men in scoring position today and those were big for us.”
In the four games against Pittsburgh, Blum went 7-for-13 to raise his average from .273 to .304.
“I didn’t get that bounce for the first month and a half of the season,” Blum said. “It’s nice to be in a rhythm where you don’t miss any pitches.It’s more mental than anything. My swing is maintaining itself and I’m mentally able to execute at the plate.”
The Phillies are returning to the Vet after going 5-5 on their recently completed West Coast trip.
They finished the swing on Wednesday with a 5-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Kevin Millwood allowed just four hits in seven-plus innings, and Bobby Abreu and Tyler Houston both homered, helping Philadelphia avoid a three-game sweep.
“I’m never satisfied, but this has been a grueling trip,” Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. “I’m very happy ending 5-5. Trust me, I’d like to go 10-0, but I think the Diamondbacks are starting to play well.”
STANDINGS (through May 7): Astros - 3rd place, 1 1/2 GB, NL Central. Phillies - 3rd place, 2 1/2 GB, NL East.
ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Roy Oswalt (2-3, 3.66 ERA). Oswalt has not allowed more than three runs in any of his past three starts, but is winless in that span. In the Astros’ 5-2 win over the Florida Marlins on Sunday, he gave up two runs and nine hits over seven innings. He has no record and a 0.00 ERA in one previous game against the Phillies.
PHILLIES PROBABLE STARTER: Brett Myers (2-2, 2.09 ERA). Myers has been impressive over his last three starts, lasting at least six innings and giving up no more than one run in each. On Saturday, he did not get a decision after allowing one run and five hits over six innings in the Phillies’ 5-4 win over the San Diego Padres. Myers has never faced the Astros.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Astros - Jeff Kent, .325 avg.; Jeff Bagwell, 11 HRs; Bagwell and Kent, 24 RBIs; Bagwell and Craig Biggio, 24 runs; Richard Hidalgo, 4 SBs. Phillies - Mike Lieberthal, .337 avg.; Jim Thome, 6 HRs and 26 RBIs; Jimmy Rollins, 26 runs and 3 SBs.
2002 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 3-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Astros - Houston is on its longest winning streak since a seven-game spurt last May 12-18. … The Astros will be playing their final series at the Vet, where they are 100-152 all-time. … RHP Oswalt is batting .294 (5-for-17) this season. He is a career .170 hitter. Phillies - 2B Placido Polanco is batting .538 (7-for-13) in his career against Oswalt. … 1B Thome batted just .229 (8-for-35) on the Phillies’ West Coast trip, but was 3-for-4 Wednesday. … RHP Turk Wendell has not allowed a run in eight appearances, spanning 10 2-3 innings.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Astros - 6-9 on the road; Phillies - 10-6 at home.
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