Astros-Phillies Preview


Some recent scuffling at the plate has the Houston Astros questioning their confidence offensively.

Facing Cliff Lee - even as he works his way back to form - may not help them much Tuesday night when they conclude their two-game series versus the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Astros (15-20) have scored only 13 runs in dropping six of eight, getting held to three or fewer runs in every game. Marwin Gonzalez's pinch-hit homer in the eighth accounted for Houston's scoring in Monday's 5-1 loss to the Phillies, with the other six hits - three by Carlos Lee - all singles.

"We're getting back to earlier in the year where we talked about runners in scoring position," manager Brad Mills told the team's official website. "Now, we want to get a few more runners on to get that going. To get momentum, that's the situation we're in. Getting runners on, walking more and getting some hits."

Houston is batting .191 with only 10 extra-base hits during this current funk, going 5 for 42 (.119) with runners in scoring position, and its team batting average has dropped 16 points to .248.

Lee has been one of the few players finding some success, going 9 for 30 with a double and a triple, but he has no RBIs. The veteran first baseman has fared well against Cliff Lee (0-1, 2.17 ERA), going 8 for 21 with three homers and a triple.

Cliff Lee is making his second start since coming off the disabled list for a strained left oblique and was efficient Wednesday against New York, yielding two runs in six innings while throwing 84 pitches. The left-hander, though, did not get a decision as his bullpen squandered a two-run lead in a 10-6 defeat.

"Last time he pitched, I wanted to send him out," manager Charlie Manuel, who may let Lee hit 100 pitches this time around, told the team's official website. "It crossed my mind, yes. But I didn't want him to get hurt."

Lee won his only start versus the Astros last year, striking out 11 in seven innings of a 9-4 victory, but he is 1-2 with a 6.89 ERA in three lifetime starts against them.

Philadelphia (17-19) is seeking its first three-game winning streak this season, and its offense is showing signs of coming around as it continues to play without stars Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. The Phillies have had at least eight hits in eight consecutive games and scored four or more runs five times in that span.

Freddy Galvis has spearheaded that charge, going 10 for 27 with four doubles, one triple and nine RBIs in his last nine games, raising his average 46 points to .231. The second baseman is hitting .319 at home, where 12 of his 13 RBIs have come.

Galvis and most of his Phillies teammates will get their first look at Jordan Lyles (0-1, 4.50), who is expected to be called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City since he is scheduled to pitch Tuesday in its rotation. The 22-year-old right-hander, who is 5-0 with a 3.49 ERA with the RedHawks, made his season debut April 29 and allowed three runs and four hits in six innings before leaving without a decision in a 5-4 loss to Cincinnati.

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