Astros 9, Phillies 6
PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Once Carlos Lee stopped trying to live up to his big contract, he started proving he was worth it.
Lee hit three homers, including a grand slam, and drove in six runs, Morgan Ensberg had a three-run shot and the Houston Astros overcame a rare erratic outing from Roy Oswalt to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 9-6 on Friday night.
“At the beginning of the season I was trying to do too much,” said Lee, who signed a six-year, $100 million free-agent contract in the offseason. “Now I’m trying to see the ball more. All of the homers were on fastballs. I was patient enough to wait for fastballs.”
Lee had one homer and six RBIs in the first eight games.
Oswalt (2-0) lost his control early and his cool later, yet still earned his 100th win. He was uncharacteristically wild, walking a career-high six batters while allowing six runs and seven hits in five innings on a chilly night.
Oswalt nearly got ejected after balking in a run in the fifth, but stayed in and struck out Jimmy Rollins to end the inning. Five Astros relievers pitched four scoreless innings. New closer Dan Wheeler struck out the side in the ninth for his second save.
“It was probably the worst game I’ve thrown in the big leagues,” Oswalt said.
Lee hit a solo homer off Brett Myers in the second inning, and his slam came off Myers in the third. Lee connected again to straightaway center field off Ryan Madson in the ninth for his first three-homer game.
Myers (0-2) hardly looked like an ace for the second straight start. He gave up seven runs and three hits in 3 1-3 innings. Four of the five batters he walked scored. Myers was roughed up against Florida last Saturday, allowing six runs in 4 1-3 innings.
“I got no excuses. I flat-out stunk,” Myers said. “It’s frustrating. I feel I’m not myself. I feel I lost that Rottweiler aggression. I’m pitching like a scared dog. I’m sorry the fans had to watch that. It was terrible.”
The struggling Phillies fell to 2-8, a terrible start to a season that began with playoff expectations.
Leading 3-1 in the third, Myers ran into trouble by issuing two-out walks to Ensberg and Lance Berkman to load the bases. Lee then hit a 1-0 pitch into the left-center field stands to give Houston a 5-3 lead.
Myers left with one out and runners on second and third in the fourth inning. Jon Lieber entered and retired Craig Biggio on a hard liner back to the mound. But Ensberg connected for his first homer to make it 8-3.
“He’s capable of pitching better. He has to pitch better for us to win,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of his ace.
With runners at first and third in the fifth, Oswalt made a rare pickoff attempt to third base. Home plate umpire Greg Gibson called the balk, inciting a heated argument from Oswalt. Manager Phil Garner was ejected soon after he left the dugout.
The Phillies threatened against Trever Miller in the eighth, but couldn’t get a run. Shane Victorino was thrown out trying to score from second base by right fielder Luke Scott on Howard’s line-drive single. Chad Qualls came in with runners at first and third and got Wes Helms to ground into a double play.
The loudest ovation from a sellout crowd on College Night at Citizens Bank Park came in the sixth when a fan ran onto the field from beyond third base. He sprinted past several security guards, reached shortstop Rollins and went for a hand shake—he was denied. The stocky fan then eluded a security guard’s diving tackle and ran toward the wall in left-center, but couldn’t climb it and eventually was caught.
Oswalt retired the first two batters he faced before walking Utley and Howard in the first. Helms followed with a bloop single to right field on an 0-2 pitch to drive in Utley.
Oswalt then walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Aaron Rowand and Rod Barajas hit consecutive infield singles to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead. Oswalt had walked just two batters total in his first two starts.
“It was tough with the weather, the cold and the wind blowing,” Oswalt said. “I just didn’t do what I wanted to.”
Lee was the 11th Astros player to hit three homers and first major leaguer to do it since Cody Ross for Florida on Sept. 11 against the Mets, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Ensberg was the last Astro to do it on May 15, 2005, against San Francisco. Lee has 16 multihomer games. … Craig Biggio hit his 641st double in the sixth inning, passing Honus Wagner for eighth place on the career list. … Astros RHP Jason Jennings will miss Saturday’s start because of right elbow flexor tendinitis. … The Astros are 9-1 in Philadelphia since the Phillies moved out of Veterans Stadium.