Astros complete sweep of NL East-leading Phillies
an RBI double off Phillies reliever
Chan Ho Park.
The bases were full, the Philadelphia Phillies' infielders were playing in and most of the fans at Minute Maid Park were on their feet and screaming. Michael Bourn was at the plate with the game on the line, a chance to deliver a blow against his former teammates and fighting to relax. Yes, relax.
Temptation was everywhere, and Bourn came out swinging, finding himself with a 1-2 count right away. Then, he caught himself, looked within, relaxed and showcased a patience and plate discipline that contrasts with his team-leading 110 strikeouts.
On an afternoon in which his team used five relievers, Bourn put together an eight-pitch plate appearance to drive in the game-winning run with a walk to beat the Phillies 4-3 on Monday and help the Astros complete a four-game sweep.
“I had to try to tell myself to relax,” Bourn said. “I felt like I was trying to be too aggressive, trying to do too much. Playing my former team, I want to do too much. But you have to tell yourself to relax and let it come to you. That's what I did. I had to back off a little bit. I did it too late in that at-bat, but it wasn't too, too late.”
Although they're essentially out of playoff contention barring a miracle, the Astros showed the crowd of 29,040 that they haven't quit.
“That felt a little bit like the World Series or the playoffs,” Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. “It was a terrific day. We had to mix and match all day. But we got big at-bats and made big pitches. And we walk away with a win. Who would have thought that we'd be able to sweep these guys?”
Bats get going
With the Astros trailing 3-2, Miguel Tejada led off the bottom of the seventh with a double off righthanded reliever Chan Ho Park. Hunter Pence followed with an RBI double to right, slicing a ball off the end of his bat and down the line to tie it at 3. Geoff Blum lined out to deep center, letting Pence tag over to third easily. After Park intentionally walked pinch hitter Darin Erstad to put runners on the corners, pinch hitter Jason Michaels loaded the bases with a five-pitch walk.
That set up Bourn, who has blossomed in his second season since the Phillies traded him to the Astros in the deal that landed Brad Lidge and Eric Bruntlett in Philadelphia.
With the infield in, the crowd up and the count full, Bourn fouled off the first 3-2 pitch before taking the next to get the walk and drive in the run that gave the Astros a 4-3 lead.
“I thought early in the at-bat he maybe was trying to do a little too much,” Cooper said of Bourn. “When he got to two strikes, you could tell that he shortened up and he was just trying to make contact. He showed a lot of plate discipline. And that's the one part of Michael's game, when he gets that really rolling like in that particular at-bat, then I think he's going to be kind of a force to be reckoned with. ”
The two-run rally in the seventh made a winner out of Wesley Wright, who pitched two-thirds of a scoreless inning. Wright (3-2) was the second of five Astros relievers who combined to throw 3 1⁄3 scoreless innings after Brian Moehler gave up three runs on five hits and two homers with three walks and two strikeouts over 52⁄3 innings.
Valverde picks up save
Jose Valverde pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.
Pence hit a two-run home run to give the Astros a 2-1 lead in the second inning. Ryan Howard and Raul Ibañez hit consecutive homers to start the fourth and give the Phillies a 3-2 lead, but the Astros countered in the seventh with Bourn putting the finishing touch.
“Bourn's having a great year,” Wright said. “He's been pretty clutch the whole year. He used his patience to get the walk, and it was a big walk.”