Afternoon delight for the Phillies

April 17, 2008 3:14:41 PM PDT
A poor bullpen session put Brett Myers in a foul mood before he took the mound. Once he got there, he settled in nicely. Myers pitched seven impressive innings, Chris Coste tied a career high with four hits and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Houston Astros 10-2 Thursday.

"My bullpen was terrible," Myers said. "I think that's what really ticked me off and made me focus in better. I wasn't making pitches, nothing was going right. When I saw (Astros leadoff hitter) Michael Bourn step in, that's when I locked it in."

Myers (2-1) allowed one run and five hits in his second straight solid outing. His eight strikeouts were a season-high for the Phillies.

A closer at the end of last year, Myers struggled his first two starts after moving back to the rotation. But he turned it around by going eight innings and outpitching Carlos Zambrano in his last trip to the mound, a 5-3 win over the Cubs.

Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell had back-to-back homers for the Phillies, who tied a season-high with 16 hits. Chase Utley added a two-run shot.

Carlos Lee and 33-year-old Miguel Tejada hit solo homers for the Astros. Tejada told reporters before the game that he's actually two years older than he's listed in the club's media guide and other baseball records.

So Taguchi and Greg Dobbs - manager Charlie Manuel's latest 1-2 punch atop the lineup - jump-started the Phillies' struggling offense. Each had a pair of hits and scored three runs combined.

"We finally scored some runs," Manuel said. "It's good to see the offense come alive."

Manuel has been forced to tinker with his batting order almost every game because leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino are injured.

Rollins, the 2007 NL MVP, hasn't started the last eight games because of a sprained left ankle. The switch-hitting shortstop won't return until Saturday at the earliest. He left the team to attend a funeral for an uncle.

Taguchi and Dobbs hit consecutive singles off Brandon Backe (1-2) in the first, and Howard and Burrell had RBI singles. Geoff Jenkins lined a double that made it 3-0.

Utley's two-run shot chased Backe and gave the Phillies a 6-1 lead in the fourth.

Howard and Burrell connected off Oscar Villarreal in the sixth. Burrell leads the Phillies with six homers and 17 RBIs.

Coste, who was 4-for-5, had an RBI double in the third and homered off Astros closer Jose Valverde in the eighth. Valverde blew a 3-0 lead on Tuesday night and watched Doug Brocail finish a 2-1 win Wednesday.

"I miss you guys," Coste said to reporters. "It's been a while since I had you around this locker."

Backe allowed six runs and 10 hits in three-plus innings. The right-hander gave up a total of four runs in his first three starts.

"Today was a blunder day," Backe said. "I didn't pitch well and we didn't play well."

Tejada hit an opposite-field drive to right off Myers in fourth. The former AL MVP said he was 19 when he signed out of poverty-stricken Bani, Dominican Republic. At the time, he says, a local coach encouraged him to say he was 17.

"I was a poor kid," Tejada said. "I wanted to sign a professional contract, and that was the only way to do it. I didn't want or mean to do anything wrong. At the time, I was two years older than they thought."

A baserunning blunder by Myers cost Utley an RBI double in the second. Myers hesitated, then tagged up at second base and had to hold at third on Utley's liner off the right-field wall

Notes: Every Phillies starter had at least two hits except Myers and SS Eric Bruntlett, who was 0-for-5. ... Philadelphia had 16 hits against Washington on April 3. ... The Phillies are 4-4 without Rollins. ... Bourn stole his ninth base in as many attempts. ... Coste also had four hits on Aug. 3, 2006, at St. Louis.