Philadelphia (76-72) at Houston (71-76)

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  • Game info: 2:05 pm EDT Sun Sep 17, 2006
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The Philadelphia Phillies look to continue their playoff push as they try for their first sweep in more than six weeks when their three-game series against the Houston Astros concludes Sunday at Minute Maid Park.

Rookie Cole Hamels pitched hitless ball for 6 2-3 innings in a 7-2 win on Saturday, helping the Phillies (76-72) move four games over .500 for the first time since being 32-28 on June 8.

Philadelphia remained 1 1/2 games of wild card-leading San Diego, which beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 11-2 on Saturday.

The Phillies haven’t swept an opponent since winning three games over St. Louis at new Busch Stadium from Aug. 1-3.

“The most important thing for us to do now is just win games,” said David Dellucci, who broke a scoreless tie in the seventh inning Saturday with his 13th home run of the season. “It doesn’t matter what the scoreboard says. We just have to play good fundamental baseball. That’s what it takes to stay in this thing.”

Dellucci was batting .158 (9-for-57) in his previous 24 games, and hadn’t homered since Aug. 15.

Ryan Howard hit what was ruled a double by umpire Larry Poncino in the sixth inning when a young fan in the first row of the left-field seats attempted to catch the ball and then dropped it. After the game, Poncino said he blew the call.

Howard has not homered in his last seven games after hitting 13 home runs in 16 games from Aug. 23-Sept. 8. This is his longest home run drought since going nine straight games without one from April 24-May 3.

Although he hasn’t been able to add to his major league-leading home run total of 56, Howard is batting .381 (8-for-21) in his last seven games.

Philadelphia entered this series having lost 13 of 14 against the Astros (71-76), and hasn’t swept a series in Houston since April 5-7, 1993.

Randy Wolf (3-0, 5.56 ERA) tries to bounce back from his shortest outing of the season when he takes the ball for the Phillies on Sunday.

Wolf, who missed the first four months of the season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, allowed five runs and six hits in just two innings of a 6-5 win over Atlanta on Wednesday.

The left-hander won three straight starts from Aug. 15-Aug. 25, but has a 5.54 ERA in his last three outings.

Wolf is 3-4 with a 3.98 ERA in eight career starts against Houston, and is 1-2 with a 4.76 ERA in three games at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros, who earned wild-card berths the last two years, have lost five of six to fall six games behind the Padres.

“I’m disappointed,” Houston manager Phil Garner said. “I’m a little down right now. I’m sure I feel the same way the players feel right now. We needed to put on a good showing and we needed to do it very quickly against these guys and we just haven’t done it. So we continue to dig a hole for ourselves.”

Craig Biggio extended his season-high hitless streak to eight games after going 0-for-4 on Saturday. Biggio has no hits in his last 28 at-bats as his batting average has dropped from .259 to .244. He is 4-for-23 (.174) in his career against Wolf.

Wandy Rodriguez (9-9, 5.43) starts for the Astros on Sunday, taking Andy Pettitte’s place in the rotation.

Pettitte had his start pushed back to Tuesday due to a strained flexor muscle in his left elbow suffered in his start against St. Louis last Tuesday.

Rodriguez is 0-4 with a 7.40 ERA in five starts and three relief appearances since July 2, though he did spend nearly a month in the minors shortly after the All-Star break.

In his last start, the left-hander gave up three runs and five hits in five innings of a 4-0 loss to Milwaukee last Sunday.

Rodriguez pitched a scoreless inning of relief in his only career outing against the Phillies on Sept. 7, 2005.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Wolf LAA vs. W. Rodríguez Pit
4-0 Record 9-10
5.56 ERA 5.64
44 K 98
33 BB 63
1.69 WHIP 1.60


Sunday, Sep 17