HOUSTON — Philadelphia still has a chance to make the playoffs with 15 games remaining. However, after losing three of four to the Houston Astros, even the Phillies admitted it just got harder.
Justin Maxwell hit a two-run double and Matt Dominguez added a two-run single in Houston’s four-run seventh inning as the Astros rallied for a 7-6 victory against the Phillies Sunday.
Philadelphia fell four games behind St. Louis in the race for the National League's second wild-card spot.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said losing three of four to the Astros really hurts but added that his team has to keep on playing.
“We can turn it around,” Manuel said. “We are four back. We have been in tougher situations than this. We have to keep going and keep trying. You get tested all the time. We have to play like hell, but we can do it. We aren’t going to give up. We are going to play it out. We have done it before. Survive.”
Carlos Corporan and Scott Moore homered for the Astros, who remained one loss away from reaching 100 for the second straight season.
“The guys don’t quit,” Houston interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “It seems like they’ve got some life and fire. We’re trying to establish the familiarity with participating in a winning ballgame. It’s fun, and the clubhouse has got a little energy now.”
Wesley Wright (2-2) pitched a scoreless seventh to pick up the win. Wilton Lopez got the last five outs for his sixth save.
Jose Altuve reached on an error by third baseman Michael Martinez to begin the seventh and Jimmy Paredes was walked by Antonio Bastardo (2-5). Pinch hitter Brandon Laird walked off Phillippe Aumont to load the bases with one out.
Maxwell’s double down the right-field line that just found chalk put the Astros ahead 5-4, and Dominguez followed with his two-run single.
“I was hoping and I was seeing the runners ahead of me going,” Maxwell said of his hit. “I didn’t see it hit the chalk. I just kept running.”
After Dominguez moved to second on a passed ball, Justin De Fratus intentionally walked pinch hitter Jason Castro one out later but got Tyler Greene to ground out to end the inning.
Domonic Brown sliced the lead to 7-6 with a two-run double off Mickey Storey in the eighth. Lopez, however, struck out pinch hitter Laynce Nix and got a grounder from Nate Schierholtz to end the inning.
Jimmy Rollins led off the ninth with a single and moved to second on Erik Kratz’s fly ball to right. Lopez got Chase Utley to fly out to left and intentionally walked Ryan Howard before Carlos Ruiz grounded to first to end the game.
Rollins said losing three of four to the Astros was not good but not deflating.
“It shouldn’t be deflating,” Rollins said. “We lose games. It obviously doesn’t matter the name on the jersey. If we lose, we just don’t have any more room. Would it matter if it was the Nationals? No.”
Phillies starter Roy Halladay gave up three runs on six hits with seven strikeouts in six innings, remaining two wins shy of 200 for his career.
Halladay said the Astros’ young lineup was hard to figure out.
“It is definitely a different, odd team to pitch to,” Halladay said. “Sometimes they are aggressive, sometimes they are not. Sometimes they are taking. I think the whole series, we never figured out what their plan was. It was kind of all over the place. That made it tough.”
Jordan Lyles gave up four runs on five hits with four walks and six strikeouts in five innings for Houston. Lyles has gone longer than five innings just once in his last six starts.
Philadelphia scored three runs in the fifth to take a 4-2 lead. Rollins singled with two outs, stole second and moved to third on Corporan’s throwing error. Juan Pierre followed with a run-scoring double to left field.
Lyles intentionally walked Utley, and Howard followed with a two-run double to left but Howard was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple.
Corporan’s solo homer in the sixth pulled Houston to 4-3.
Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead in the first on Utley’s sacrifice fly.
Moore’s two-run homer in the third put the Astros ahead 2-1.
Notes: Philadelphia starts a three-game series today at the New York Mets with LHP Cliff Lee starting for the Phillies against RHP R.A. Dickey for the Mets. ... Houston OF Fernando Martinez was scratched from the lineup and replaced by Paredes in right field. ... Altuve was expected to get the day off Sunday but started after INF Jed Lowrie was given the day off due to soreness in his right leg, DeFrancesco said. Greene started at shortstop in place of Lowrie. ... Houston starts a three-game series at St. Louis on Tuesday with LHP Fernando Abad going for the Astros against RHP Kyle Lohse.