Phillies' rally falls short

May 23, 2008 8:38:39 PM PDT
Jose Valverde earned a save after getting struck in the face with a line drive and the Houston Astros got two solo homers from Hunter Pence to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 on Friday night. Valverde earned his 15th save 18 chances after Pedro Feliz smacked a liner off the right side of his face. The closer allowed four hits and two runs in an eventful ninth, before Shane Victorino flew out to center with runners on second and third to end it.

Pat Burrell led off the ninth with a single and went to second when center fielder Michael Bourn misplayed it. One out later, Feliz drove a pitch into Valverde's face and the Astros right-hander immediately went down. Burrell scored on the play to make it 4-2.

Houston's medical staff and all the infielders rushed to the mound and Valverde hopped up after a few tense minutes.

After Valverde threw a few warmup pitches, Carlos Ruiz singled before Valverde struck out pinch hitter Chris Coste. Jimmy Rollins singled to right to score Feliz and cut the Houston lead to 4-3, but Victorino couldn't provide the last clutch hit for the Phillies.

Brandon Backe (4-5) struck out six and gave up six hits in 7 1-3 innings to help the Astros win for the 11th time in their last 14 home games.

Pence, in his second season, had his third career two-homer game and Bourn added an RBI single for the Astros.

Philadelphia starter Adam Eaton (0-3) allowed Pence's two homers and eight hits in all to lose for the third time in four starts.

Burrell hit a solo homer for the second straight night to put the Phillies up 1-0 in the second inning. Burrell has six homers in his last 10 games against the Astros.

Eaton allowed only a double to Ty Wigginton and a single to Miguel Tejada in the first four innings. Pence led off the fifth with a solo homer just inside the foul pole in right.

By then, Backe was cruising. Burrell grounded out to start the seventh before Backe struck out Geoff Jenkins and Feliz, who was hitting .319 in his last 19 games.

Eaton had lasted more than six innings only once this season and Pence opened the Astros' seventh with a homer into the left-field porch.

J.R. Towles singled to left later in the inning and eventually scored on Bourn's single to put the Astros up 3-1. Bourn was acquired from the Phillies in the offseason for closer Brad Lidge.

Pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs doubled to left center with one out in the eighth. Rollins singled to center, but a strong throw from Bourn kept Dobbs from scoring.

Houston manager Cecil Cooper replaced Backe with Doug Brocail and Backe got a standing ovation as he walked to the dugout.

Brocail struck out Victorino, then intentionally walked Chase Utley to load the bases for Ryan Howard. The Phillies slugger hit the first pitch to first baseman Lance Berkman, who flipped to Brocail for the easy out.

Berkman tripled and Carlos Lee drove him in with a sacrifice fly in the eighth to make it 4-1.

Notes: Pence's first career two-homer game came last Aug. 31 against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. ... The Phillies lead the majors with 71 home runs. ... After getting Berkman to pop up for the final out in Thursday's game, Lidge got a text message from the Astros slugger that said, "I hate you." Lidge played for the Astros from 2002-07. He also got text messages after the game from catcher Brad Ausmus and former Astro Jason Lane, who now plays for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the New York Yankees' Triple-A affiliate.