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Phillies answer back with rout of Astros

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- Following Thursday night's 6-4 loss to the Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said his team needed to score more runs.

The Phillies did just that Friday night.

John Mayberry Jr. had three hits and drove in three runs as the Phillies defeated the Astros 12-6.

Jimmy Rollins and Domonic Brown each homered for the Phillies, who have won eight of nine games and were within 3 1/2 games of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League wild card race pending the outcome of the Cardinals' game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Rollins said the Phillies never expect to have an easy win.

"You do that, you come off the gas, a team will come off and clip you in the end," Rollins said. "I don't think as players you really worry about being in a tight game or a loose game, as long as you end up on the winning side."

Ryan Howard also had two hits and drove in three runs for the Phillies, who got a hit from every starter except Carlos Ruiz.

Cole Hamels (15-6) gave up four runs (three earned) on seven hits with eight strikeouts in seven innings. Hamels tied a single-season career high with his 15th win of the season.

Manuel said Hamels was good, but he has seen better.

"He threw a lot of soft stuff down," Manuel said. "I think that's because they've got a young team and he's trying to get them chasing balls. Later on, about the third inning, he started using his fastball more and I think it kind of helped him. He pitched fine."

The Phillies jumped on Houston starter Edgar Gonzalez (2-1) quickly, scoring four runs in a 32-pitch first inning.

Rollins led off the game with a solo home run to right, his fifth leadoff homer of the season, giving the Phillies a 1-0 lead. Juan Pierre followed with a walk and a steal before Utley hit an RBI single to increase the lead to 2-0.

Howard extended the lead to 3-0 on an RBI ground-rule double and two outs later, Mayberry Jr. singled make it 4-0.

Hamels said the first-inning runs were huge to get the momentum, but it was his job to prevent runs.

"So anything I can do, sometimes you're going to give up runs, you make good pitches, give up some runs," Hamels said. "I made some bad pitches. But at the same time, I just kind of had to keep it where the momentum was still in our favor and wasn't going to give them a shot."

Gonzalez lasted only four innings, allowing five runs on six hits with two strikeouts. Gonzalez had allowed just two runs in his first two starts in the Astros totaling 10 1/3 innings.

"I was feeling good the whole game," Gonzalez said. "The first inning I was struggling with my fastball command. I was trying to hit the corners, but nothing you can do with that. They are good hitters and got it."

Houston, which is one loss away from its second straight 100-loss season, cut the lead to 4-1 on an error by Rollins, scoring Jose Altuve.

Kevin Frandsen increased the lead to 5-1 in the fourth with an RBI single. Houston answered in the bottom of the inning with a two-run homer by Matt Downs, cutting the lead to 5-3.

Mayberry Jr. scored two more in the fifth on an infield single that hit off pitcher Fernando Rodriguez and went into shallow right field, but Justin Maxwell trimmed the lead to 7-4 with a solo home run off the left-field foul pole in the bottom of the inning. Brown extended the lead to 9-4 with a two-run homer off Jose Valdez in the seventh, which landed in the second deck in right field.

Utley hit an RBI double and Howard had a two-run single in the eighth of Enerio Del Rosario to extend Philadelphia's advantage to 12-4.

Houston cut the margin to 12-5 after Maxwell scored on a Justin De Fratus wild pitch in the eighth, and Altuve scored in the ninth on an error by Frandsen to cut the deficit to 12-6.

In all, Houston's bullpen allowed seven runs in five innings.

"There were some good things that happened, but unfortunately, the bullpen, it was a rough outing for most of them out there," Houston interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "That seems to be the story -- a couple good games, then a couple bad games. If we can be consistent coming out of the 'pen and shutting them down, that could keep us in the game."

NOTES: Rollins stole his 400th career base Thursday night against the Astros. He needs 12 more to tie Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty for second place in Phillies history. ... Rollins' leadoff homer was the 42nd of his career. He needs two more to tie Brady Anderson for fourth place all time. ... Hamels had thrown 100 or more pitches in 14 consecutive starts entering Friday's game. ... Former Astro Jeff Kent, who is in the cast for the new season of the reality TV show "Survivor," was on hand to throw out the first pitch. Kent's son, Kayedin, threw out the first pitch for Jeff, who was recovering from injuries sustained in a dirt bike accident.
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