After scoring both of the Astros’ runs in a win over the Phillies on Wednesday, Bourn looks to continue his strong play against his former club in the finale of the teams’ three-game series in Philadelphia on Thursday.
Bourn was a key member of the Phillies’ NL East-winning team last year, contributing as a late-inning defensive replacement, pinch runner and filling in as a starter when other outfielders were injured. In 105 games, he batted .277 with 18 stolen bases - the most by a Philadelphia rookie since Jimmy Rollins had 46 in 2001. He hit .310 at home, where he had an on-base percentage of .394 and hit his only home run.
Anxious to bolster their bullpen in the offseason, however, the Phillies dealt Bourn - a Houston native who played college baseball for the University of Houston - to the Astros in a five-player trade that brought closer Brad Lidge to Philadelphia.
Bourn’s batting average is down to .236 with Houston (6-9), but he’s 5-for-13 with his first two homers of the year in his last three games, including 3-for-8 in his first two contests back in Philadelphia.
He singled, stole second and scored in the first inning, and hit the game-winning home run in the fifth as the Astros evened the series with a 2-1 victory on Wednesday night.
“You always want to play well against the team the traded you,” Bourn said. “More importantly, we got the win. I’m glad we bounced back the way we did. I can’t be mad at them. They gave me my opportunity last year. I’m happy where I’m at now.”
The Phillies (7-8) fell back below .500 with their fourth loss in seven games they’ve started without Rollins, who’s nursing a sprained left ankle. The reigning NL MVP is 1-for-2 in pinch-hit at-bats in this series, but won’t play again until Saturday at the earliest because he’s heading to Oakland, Calif., to attend a funeral for an uncle.
The Phillies look to get back to the break-even mark behind Brett Myers (1-1, 5.00 ERA), who’s coming off his best start since returning to the Phillies’ rotation after spending most of 2007 as a reliever.
The right-hander was Philadelphia’s opening-day starter last season, but was 0-2 with a 9.39 ERA after three starts, including a loss to Houston in which he gave up a season-high seven runs in 3 1-3 innings. He was then moved to the bullpen, where he eventually finished the season as the Phillies’ closer.
Myers was shaky in his first two starts of 2008, posting a 6.30 ERA and failing to last more than five innings in either game. But he held the Chicago Cubs to three runs and five hits in eight innings in a 5-3 win on Friday - his first victory in eight starts since beating the Cubs on Sept. 20, 2006.
“I definitely felt a lot more aggressive,” Myers said after his last outing. “I felt I threw pitches with conviction instead of lollipopping them up there.”
Myers is 2-2 with a 5.59 ERA in six career starts against the Astros.
He’ll face Houston’s Brandon Backe (1-1, 2.25), who is 4-2 with a 3.22 ERA in eight starts since returning in September from elbow ligament replacement surgery. The right-hander got his first win of the season on Saturday when he held Florida scoreless in five innings of Houston’s 5-0 victory.
Backe gave up three runs in four innings of his only career start against the Phillies in 2005.