After being staked to a 3-0 lead before he even took the mound, Brian Moehler did his past to never relinquish that lead en route to leading the Astros to a 8-3 series clinching victory Sunday afternoon. Moehler, who has been much better on the road vs. at home this season, claimed his third victory this season after pitching six strong innings. It's not as if he was pitching in order to keep his spot in the rotation, but it feels like everytime his turn in the rotation comes up, it may be his last. He wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but with the Astros scoring eight runs and leaving only six runners on base, he didn't need to be.
Yesterday's record breakers opened up the game with key RBIs. Miguel Tejada added to his 2000 career hits with an RBI double, and Mr. 300 Lance Berkman deposited a Billy Buckner offering into the seats for his thirteenth homer of the season. After Stephen Drew hit a home run of his own off Moehler in the bottom of the first, it looked like it could be another close game for the Astros. Hunter Pence, he of the 0/11 and 1/19 batting streaks, saw to it that the scoring would not stop, after he snapped out of his funk with a bomb to left. A Mark Reynolds solo shot capped the home runs at four, and also halted Arizona's scoring for the day.
Everyone got into the offensive act for the Astros, either contributing with a hit, RBI, or run scored. This offensive outburst occurred as Carlos Lee missed his first game of the season, and with subs Matt Kata and Jason Michaels inserted into the lineup. Michael Bourn continues to show that he is going to be a threat at the top of our lineup, stealing two bases, drawing a walk, while scoring and driving in a run.
Topping off the complete effort were three good defensive plays- two double plays, and a nice Pence-Kata-Rodriguez relay to nail Chris Snyder at the plate. It came when the game was still close, and was Pence's fifth outfield assist of the season.
Jose Valverde pitched another scoreless inning of relief, this time in his familiar ninth inning. Jeff Fulchino bridged the proverbial gap from starter to closer, holding the DBacks to to one hit and one walk in two innings.
The Astros have won five series in a row, and are just four games out of first. Don't start putting money down for playoff tickets just yet, but Astros games are now meaningful. Six in a row will be difficult to accomplish heading into Arlington, but Wandy and Roy give us a shot.