At least for one night, Houston held no horrors for the Phillies. Back in Texas for the first time since suffering a four-game sweep at the hands of the Astros last September, the Phils put up three runs in the top of the first and two more each in the fourth and fifth en route to an easy 8-0 win. J.A. Happ pitched into the sixth inning to notch his first victory of the year, while David Herndon, Danys Baez and Jose Contreras all were effective in relief.
The top of the lineup once again was sensational for the Phils, as Jimmy Rollins reached base four times--including two more walks--while Placido Polanco went 4 for 5. While each of the first six men in the lineup notched at least two hits, the performance of Raul Ibanez might have been the most encouraging: after a torpid first three games of the season and repeated failures with men in scoring position during Thursday's frustrating 6-5 loss to the Nationals, Ibanez went 3 for 4 with two doubles. The first came with two outs in the first inning, plating two runs just when it looked like Houston starter Bud Norris might escape relatively unscathed. As a team, the Phils banged out 16 hits, reaching double digits for the fourth time in four games.
Happ wasn't at his most efficient--he threw 104 pitches before leaving with two on and none out in the Astros sixth--but he held Houston to six hits and two walks while striking out 5. He did his best work in the bottom of the third, recovering from consecutive singles to Michael Bourn and Jeff Keppinger to start the inning by popping up Hunter Pence, striking out Carlos Lee and inducing a flyout from former teammate Pedro Feliz. Herndon performed an equally impressive feat of escapism in the sixth, coming on in relief of Happ after a Polanco error and walk put men on first and second with none out to get an around the horn double play from J.R. Towles and a ground out from Tommy Manzella. Polanco made fine plays on both to atone for his miscue.
Chase Utley hit his first homer of the year in the fourth, and Ryan Howard continued his blazing start with two doubles. Jamie Moyer makes his 2010 debut for the Phils as the series continues Saturday.