With a sellout crowd cheering them on at Citizens Bank Park and uncounted others self-flagellating at home, the Phillies--eventually--took a long step away from the abyss with a hard-earned 7-4 win over their nemeses from Houston. It was their first in six tries this year against the Astros, and reduced their magic number to clinch the NL East to two.
Pedro Feliz and Jayson Werth were the offensive heroes, as the whole lineup seemed to approach their at-bats with a focus and intensity largely missing over the last week. Feliz broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the fourth when, with the bases loaded, he launched a first-pitch blast off Astros rookie pitcher Wilton Lopez. After Houston got a run back, Werth followed an inning later with a two-run blast off reliever Wesley Wright that made it 7-2.
Like seemingly every Phillies starter of late, J.A. Happ slipped in and out of trouble through his 5 2/3 innings. The usually efficient lefty thew 119 pitches over that stretch, and was clearly gassed by his last one--which Phillie-killer Kaz Matsui ripped for a two-run homer that brought Houston within three runs. But that proved to be the last scoring of the night, as Jamie Moyer came on to get the last out of the sixth and complete the seventh--appearing to badly hurt his hamstring on the final pitch of that inning, a deep flyout off the bat of Jeff Keppinger--and Ryan Madson worked the last two frames for his 10th save.
Madson needed just nine pitches to set the Astros down 1-2-3 in the eighth, but he had to work hard in the ninth: Matsui led off with a single to left, and Lance Berkman followed two batters later with a seeing eye hit just past a diving Jimmy Rollins. With the tying run at the plate, the righty rebounded to strike out dangerous Carlos Lee swinging on high heat, and end the game with a tracer over the outside corner that froze Hunter Pence as the Bank erupted.