Utley's three-run shot was one of a number of highlights in a strong offensive performance
The offense was firing on all cylinders, and David Buchanan pitched a solid game as the Phillies rolled to a 10-3 win over the Houston Astros Wednesday night.
Buchanan (6-5) did a pretty good job filling in for the injured Cliff Lee, pitching effectively into the seventh inning. The Astros got ahead early on Jon Singleton's run-scoring fielder's choice to second, but their lead was short lived as the Phillies bats came alive in the bottom of the first.
Ryan Howard, who hit drove in both of the team's runs in yesterday's win, plated Ben Revere and Jimmy Rollins on a double to deep left field. After consecutive walks to Marlon Byrd and Grady Sizemore, Brad Peacock (6-5) threw a ball low that bounced off the glove of Carlos Corporan, allowing Howard to score, and Byrd came home on Wil Nieves' sac-fly to left. Buchanan capped off the outburst with his first major-league hit, an RBI single to right that gave the Phillies a 5-0 lead, though he was thrown out going for second to end the inning.
Buchanan worked out of a two on, one-out jam in the second to record a scoreless inning. Houston got one back in the top of the fourth when Jake Marisnick's sac-fly to center scored Matt Dominguez, who doubled to lead off the inning, but the Phillies struck back immediately when Chase Utley hit a three-run bomb into the right field seats, making it 8-2.
Pitching to contact and keeping the ball in the zone all night, Buchanan pitched well, limiting baserunners and keeping his pitch count low as he reached the seventh inning. Unfortunately, consecutive singles by Gregorio Petit and Marc Krauss to begin the inning prompted movement in the bullpen, and after Jose Altuve's RBI groundout to shortstop, Buchanan was relieved by Jake Diekman with one out. The righty went 6.1 innings, allowing 9 hits, three runs, and no walks with five strikeouts, in his first start since July 10. Despite throwing a ball past Nieves that allowed Krauss to advance to third, Diekman was able to finish the seventh without any further damage.
Utley, Howard, and Byrd all singled to start the seventh, with Utley scoring on Byrd's drive to left. The Phillies would tack another run on the board off reliever M Foltynewicz in the eighth when Ben Revere's fly ball to left bounced off the glove of Marisnick in center for a triple, and Foltynewicz uncorked a wild pitch during the next at bat that allowed Revere to score.
Cesar Jimenez came in for the ninth inning, and worked around a two-out single by Krauss to close out the game and preserve the win for the Phillies.
Chase Utley: 2-4, 2 R, HR (10), 3 RBI
Ben Revere: 4-5, 2 R
Ryan Howard: 2-4, R, 2 RBI
Buchanan pitched a good game filling in for the injured Lee, and while he's not exactly a stud, it was another strong start that helps make his case as a viable rotation option at the big league level. He kept the ball down (six flyouts to eight ground outs), walked nobody, and wasn't afraid to let his defense make plays behind him. Offensively, it's easy to say that the Phillies simply beat up on a marginal pitcher for a bad team, but this same Houston team took 3 of 4 from the superior-hitting Blue Jays this weekend, allowing just nine runs in four games, so its not like they're completely helpless. It was nice to see Howard keep things going after a dreadful road trip. Utley's jack gave him 11 straight seasons with at least 10 home runs; the only primary second baseman with a longer streak is Jeff Kent, who had 12 such consecutive seasons.
The Phillies will go for the sweep tomorrow when they send Roberto Hernandez(6-8, 3.87 ERA) to the mound against Colin MucHugh (4-9) and the Astros. Hernandez has pitched well in three of his last four starts, most recently getting the win with eight one-run innings against the Nationals last Friday. McHugh, who has pitched better than his record indicates, allowed one run over 6.1 innings in a no decision against Toronto in his last start, a 3-1 Astros win.