Wade Miller did not feel comfortable during the first month of the season. He’s hoping those struggles are behind him.
Miller will look to follow his best outing of the season with another strong performance when the Houston Astros meet the Philadelphia Phillies in the middle game of their weekend series at Veterans Stadium.
After going winless in his first six starts, Miller finally straightened out his mechanics against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday. He retired the first 16 batters he faced and allowed just one run and three hits through eight innings in an 8-1 victory.
“It’s the best I’ve felt this year,” Miller said. “Everything just seemed to be working.”
“Before today, I was just getting too quick with my delivery,” Miller said. “I wasn’t staying behind the ball. I worked on it in the bullpen and got it figured out. Hopefully, I’ve found (the problem) and can stay there.”
He’ll now test himself against a potent Philadelphia lineup.
In Friday’s series opener, the Phillies halted the Astros’ winning streak at seven games with a 5-3 victory.
Jim Thome and Mike Lieberthal homered, and Brett Myers was effective over 6 1-3 innings as the Phillies won their second straight. Thome’s solo shot in the sixth was just the 21st upper deck right-field homer in Veterans Stadium history.
Thome, who batted .229 (8-for-35) on the Phillies’ recently completed 10-game West Coast trip, is 6-for-11 with three homers in his last three games.
STANDINGS: Astros - 3rd place, 1 GB, NL Central. Phillies - 3rd place, 2 1/2 GB, NL East.
ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Miller (1-3, 5.02 ERA). In five career games against the Phillies, Miller is 0-2 with a 3.43 ERA.
PHILLIES PROBABLE STARTER: Randy Wolf (4-2, 3.53 ERA). Wolf was impressive in a 3-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday. He went six innings, giving up one run and two hits. He also helped his own cause by going 1-for-2 with an RBI double and a run. Wolf has at least six strikeouts in each of his past three starts. In five career games against the Astros, he is 2-3 with a 4.80 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Astros - Jeff Kent, .315 avg.; Jeff Bagwell, 11 HRs; Kent and Bagwell, 24 RBIs; Craig Biggio, 25 runs; Richard Hidalgo, 4 SBs. Phillies - Lieberthal, .352 avg.; Thome, 7 HRs and 27 RBIs; Jimmy Rollins, 27 runs and 3 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Phillies, 1-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Astros - CF Biggio has just one hit in 14 career at-bats against LHP Wolf. … The Astros are in the midst of 14 straight games against teams from Pennsylvania, facing either the Pirates or Phillies in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Houston until May 18. … Houston has 11 bullpen victories this season, tied with Atlanta for the most in the National League. Phillies - RF Bobby Abreu is batting .375 (3-for-8) with one homer in his career against RHP Miller. … The Phillies scored just four runs in Wolf’s two starts against the Astros last year. The teams split those two games. … The Phillies are 5-0 on Saturday this season. They have lost at least once on every other day of the week.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Astros - 6-10 on the road; Phillies - 11-6 at home.