Philadelphia (94-51) at Houston (51-97)

Light Rain with Thunder Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 82° F
  • Game info: 2:05 pm EDT Wed Sep 14, 2011
  • TV: CSN, FSH
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Philadelphia Phillies haven’t been swept in a series of three games or more in over a year. Given their success this season, it seems unlikely that the team to do it would be the worst in the majors.

Then again, the Houston Astros were the last club to accomplish the feat.

The Phillies attempt to avoid a sweep and clinch a playoff berth with a victory Wednesday in Houston.

Philadelphia (94-51) has lost three straight for the first time since early June, getting outscored 10-3 in the first two against the Astros.

The Phillies, who also would secure a spot in the postseason Wednesday with a St. Louis loss in Pittsburgh, haven’t been swept in a series of three-plus games since Aug. 23-26, 2010, when Houston took all four matchups at Citizens Bank Park.

Manager Charlie Manuel hopes his team can clean up its play prior to the postseason.

“We talk all year long about where we want to go, and that’s to the World Series and win it,” Manuel said. “We’re sitting in a (heck) of a position, and when we come out and play kind of sloppy and we don’t have a lot of life and stuff like that, we have to play better than that.”

Having Roy Halladay(notes) (17-5, 2.44 ERA) on the mound may prove to be the difference in preventing another defeat.

Halladay is 8-2 following a Phillies loss this season. He’s 2-0 with a 1.73 ERA in his last four starts, allowing one run in eight innings of a 5-3 victory over Milwaukee on Friday, and he hasn’t lost on the road since July 18 in Chicago, going 4-0 with a 2.29 ERA in six starts since.

Overall, the right-hander is 9-3 in 15 starts away from home with a 2.55 ERA, which ranks fourth in the majors.

Halladay’s only career start in Houston was April 11, 2010, when he allowed an unearned run while throwing a complete game in a 2-1 victory over current teammate Roy Oswalt(notes). He’s 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA in three career outings against the Astros, most recently giving up one run in six innings before Philadelphia rallied late for a 5-4 opening day win April 1.

The veteran will look for some help from a struggling offense, which has scored five total runs during Philadelphia’s skid.

Former Astro Hunter Pence(notes) hit his 20th homer in the fourth inning Tuesday and Carlos Ruiz(notes) added a solo shot in the ninth, but the Phillies mustered only three other hits in a 5-2 loss.

Ryan Howard(notes) went 0 for 3 and is 3 for 19 with eight strikeouts over his last six games, though two of those hits were homers.

He’s 0 for 7 in the first two games of this series against Houston (51-97), which got a victory for a former Phillie for the second consecutive night. J.A. Happ(notes) followed a solid outing from Brett Myers(notes) on Monday.

With the back-to-back wins, the Astros have delayed losing a team-record 98th game, and they’ll look to do it again when Bud Norris(notes) (6-9, 3.78) takes the hill Wednesday.

Norris hopes to build off his most recent start Friday, when he allowed three runs - two earned - in seven innings of Houston’s 4-3, 11-inning loss to Washington.

The right-hander was roughed up in his lone start against Philadelphia this season, allowing five runs in four innings of a 7-3 loss April 3.

Carlos Lee(notes) went 1 for 4 on Tuesday and has reached base safely in 22 straight games, hitting .388 in that stretch.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Halladay Tor vs. B. Norris Bal
19-6 Record 6-11
2.35 ERA 3.77
220 K 176
35 BB 70
1.04 WHIP 1.33


Wednesday, Sep 14