Happ, Astros Surprise Phillies Yet Again

HOUSTON - SEPTEMBER 12: Military honor guard stand at attention during the national anthem before a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on September 12, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

The Astros must really, really not want to set that record for losses in the season. 

What else can explain being so frisky against the best team in the National Leauge? Well, I guess two great pitching performances from guys who have been bad this season. First, Brett Myers steps up against his former team on Monday and then J.A. Happ continues his nice run since being called back up from the minors. 

Tuesday, Happ allowed four hits, four walks and one run while striking out four in six innings. He also outdueled Cole Hamels and led the Astros to another late-season series victory over the Phillies. Unlike last season, this one was in Houston and keyed by an entirely different lineup. 

Clint Barmes added a home run, giving him 11 this season and keeping him five behind Carlos Lee for the club lead. In fact, that home run in the fourth inning was a big reason Houston went on to beat the Phillies, as it was part of that big, critical fourth inning where Houston took back the lead after seeing it slip away in the top of the frame.

Don't count out a very big two innings in relief by Fernando Rodriguez, who was dominant in striking out four of the six batters he faced. He needed just 23 pitches to get through those frames and kept the heart of the Phillies order off balance. I know he didn't get a save, because the save stat doesn't account for things like that, but he sure saved this game for Houston, especially when you consider how many times the bullpen has blown late leads this year.

So, a good win. Houston will close out this series tomorrow and may very well get to 98 losses. But that record wasn't set today. I'll take that.

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