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Series Preview/Discussion: Astros at Phillies, September 5-7, 2005

Sept. 5: Astros 4, Phillies 3 WP: Andy Pettitte (14-9) LP: Brett Myers (12-7)
Sept. 6: Astros 2, Phillies 1 WP: Roy Oswalt (17-11) LP: Billy Wagner (4-2)
Sept. 7: Astros 8, Phillies 6 WP: Chad Qualls LP: Billy Wagner (4-3)

The media is already calling it the biggest week in the short history of Citizens Bank Park: three games against the Astros, followed by three against the Florida Marlins. The two teams that haunt the sleep of Phillies phans, and present the biggest obstacles between the Phils and a 2005 playoff berth. The Astros have won nine straight over the Phils, dating back to May 2003; in Houston six weeks ago, they won the first game 7-1 behind Monday starter Andy Pettitte, then pulled out squeakers, 2-1 and 3-2, with righty aces Roy Oswalt and Roger Clemens earning victories. The sweep left the Phils at 52-50 for the season, while Houston improved to 54-47 at the time. The Phils won 18 of their next 27 to take the wild-card lead and reach a season-best 11 games over .500, while the Astros have played just above .500 ball since that series.

Like most every NL contender, the Astros have been a much weaker team away from their home field; Houston is just 26-40 on the road, compared to 46-24 at Minute Maid Park. They play 15 of their last 26 on hostile fields; the Phils, who are 40-28 at Citizens Bank Park, will play 13 of their 25 remaining games at home.

Astros manager Phil Garner has described Monday's game as his team's most important of the season.

Head to Head
Brett Myers vs. Houston, career: 1-0, 4.58; 3 G, 3 GS, 19.2 IP, 18 H, 6 BB, 14 K
Jon Lieber vs. Houston, career: 7-8, 3.45; 25 G, 19 GS, 138.1 IP, 131 H, 31 BB, 110 K, 4 CG
Vicente Padilla vs. Houston, career: 0-4, 5.13; 9 G, 4 GS, 26.1 IP, 37 H, 10 BB, 18 K

Andy Pettitte vs. Phillies, career: 1-2, 4.76; 4G, 4 GS, 22.2 IP, 30 H, 8 BB, 14 K
Roy Oswalt vs. Phillies, career: 3-1, 1.46; 5 G, 3 GS, 24.2 IP, 19 H, 6 BB, 26 K
Brandon Backe vs. Phillies, career: (never faced Phillies)