Behind the pitching of J.A. Happ and the bullpen, and the relentless bats of the Phils’ offense, the Phils defeat the presently winless Astros, 8-0. The Phils, with their victory, and with losses by both the Braves and the Marlins, took sole possession of 1st place in the NL East.
The Phils took a quick 1-0 lead in the first as, with runners on first and second, and with one man out, Ryan Howard hits an RBI double, knocking in Jimmy Rollins, who has earlier walked, moves up to second on Placido Polanco’s single, and then went to third on a Chase Utley fly out, while sending Polanco, who had earlier singled, over to third base. Two batters later, with runners still on second and third, and now with two outs, Raul Ibanez joins the Phils’ hitting parade with a two-run double, scoring both Polanco and Howard, giving the Phils a 3-0 lead. After being kept from scoring on bases loaded opportunties in both the second and the third innings, the Phils added to their lead in the fourth when, with one man out, Utley hits a solo home run, his first home run of the season, to make it a 4-0 Phils’ lead. Three batters later, with a runner on second, and now with two men outs, Ibanez hits an RBI double, knocking in Howard, who has earlier doubled, making it 5-0 Phils. The Phils continued their scoring in the fifth as, with a runner on second, and once again with two men out, Polanco hits an RBI double, scoring Rollins, who has just doubled, giving the Phils a 6-0 lead. One batter later, the Phils increased their lead to 7-0 as Utley hits an RBI single, knocking in Polanco. As the Phils were scoring, their starter, J.A. Happ, continues where he left off from his rookie season, as he blanks the Astros in six innings, pitching out of trouble, as he gives up only six hits and two walks, while striking out five Astros, followed by the bullpen which pitches four shut out innings, while striking out five more Astros. The Phils add their last run in the seventh as, with runners on first and second, and with one man out, Polanco hits an RBI single, knocking in Carlos Ruiz, who has earlier singled, and has gone to second on a walk to Rollins, while sending Rollins to third, while he would move up to second on the throw, giving the Phils an 8-0 lead. That would be the final score as Jose Contreras pitches a 1-2-3 ninth.
J.A. Happ gets the win as he pitches six strong shut out innings, plus two batters, giving up just six hits and two walks, while he strikes out five. His record is now 1-0 with an 0.00 ERA. David Herndon, Danys Baez and Jose Contreras combine for four shut out innings, giving up just two hits (Herndon), while striking out five (Herndon (2), Baez (1), Contreras (2)). Bud Norris took the lost as he lasts only two and two-thirds innings, giving up three runs on six hits and four walks, while striking out three. His record is now 0-1 with a 10.13 ERA. Wilton Lopez pitches an inning and a third, giving up two runs on three hits, while striking out one. Brian Moehler pitches three innings, giving up three runs on six hits and a walk, while striking out one. Chris Sampson pitches a scoreless inning, giving up just a hit. Jeff Fulchino also pitches a scoreless inning, striking out a batter.
The Phils’ offense had sixteen hits in the game, with Polanco leading the attack with four hits, including a double, while knocking in two runs, as he increased his batting average to .579. Raul Ibanez followed with three hits, including two doubles, knocking in three runs, as he raised his average to .267. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth all followed with two hits each, with Rollins’ hits being a single and a double, scoring two runs; Utley’s hits being a solo home run and a single, knocking in two runs while scoring one; Howard’s hits being two doubles, knocking in a run, while scoring two; and Werth’s hits both being singles. Carlos Ruiz had one hit, a single, scoring a run. The Phils’ offense had seven extra-base hits (2B (6), HR (1)) in the ballgame. The Phils’ offense had ten hits or more in their first four games, doing so for the first time since 1926.
The Phillies (3-1, 1st NL East), will continue their road trip to Houston with a night game against the Astros (0-4, 6th NL Central). The game will be played at Minute Maid Park and will start at 7:05 pm Eastern (6:05 pm Central). The ageless wonder Jamie Moyer (0-0, -.–) will start the game for the Phils, hoping to continue from spring training. Felipe Paulino (0-0, -.–) will start for the Astros, trying to put a stop to the Astros four game slide. The Phils will try to win their second straight series of the season with a win tonight.