HOUSTON (AP) -- The Philadelphia Phillies needed an unlikely hero
and a late escape Friday night to keep their slim NL East title
The New York Mets' magic number to clinch the division remained
at one with their 5-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Friday and the
second-place Phillies' win. Philadelphia also closed within 1½
games of San Diego, the NL wild-card leader.
The Astros had a chance to win it in the bottom of the ninth
against Tom Gordon.
Aubrey Huff led off with a double down the right field line that
first baseman Ryan Howard couldn't handle. One out later,
pinch-hitter Chris Burke beat out an infield single to third and
pinch-hitter Jason Lane then hit the fly ball that left fielder
Jeff Conine dropped to load the bases.
Gordon got pinch-hitter Humberto Quintero to ground into a
double play for his 30th save.
"We wanted to make sure Gordon gets tested good, see if he can
pitch when the fire's on," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said
with a smile. "And we had a big fire going."
Philadelphia starter Brett Myers (11-6) allowed three runs and
five hits in seven innings to win for the third time in five
starts. He was flying to Jacksonville, Fla. on Saturday morning to
attend the funeral of his grandfather, who died earlier this week.
"Nothing was going to hurt me tonight," Myers said. "I was
out there pitching for my grandpa. I didn't care if I was in pain
or what. I had to go out there and do it, not only for him, but for
The Astros' offense again sputtered with Clemens on the mound,
mustering four runs or fewer for the ninth time in his 16 starts
"We're having a tough, tough time," Houston manager Phil
Garner said. "They tried every way in the world to give it to us
and we couldn't punch across a run."
Clemens (6-5) lasted five innings in his first start since
straining his right groin in the Astros' 3-2 loss to Philadelphia
on Sept. 4. He allowed three hits and struck out four, but walked a
Clemens admitted later that the injury bothered him.
"I prepared myself as well as I should have, but the ball was
running a lot on me," Clemens said. "Tonight, it was me against
me. It's very disheartening, regardless of how my body feels."
"We're way behind the 8-ball," Clemens said, "and the clip we
would have to play at now is incredible."
Burrell ripped a 3-2 fastball into the porch in left, his fifth
career grand slam and the Phillies' fourth this season.
Burrell was 3-for-16 on the Phillies' current road trip and was
2-for-33 in his previous 11 games against Houston.
"We need him to get hot to win this thing," Myers said of
With the one swing, Clemens gave up more than three runs for
just the second time this season.
Clemens escaped more trouble in the fourth after Burrell singled
and Mike Lieberthal doubled down the left-field line. Lieberthal
was back in the lineup after missing 11 games with back spasms.
Clemens walked Myers to load the bases, but Jimmy Rollins
grounded into an inning-ending double play.
With one out in the fourth, Ensberg lined a solo homer to left,
his 22nd of the season but only his third since July 7. Huff then
walked and Scott hit a towering blast into the Astros' bullpen to
cut the Phillies' lead to 4-3.
Myers allowed only one hit across his final three innings.
"That's what I felt like I had to do," he said.
The Phillies snapped a six-game losing streak at Minute
Maid Park. ... Scott leads the majors with a .379 average since the
All-Star break. ... Howard has scored a run in 46 of his last 48
games. His strikeout in the third inning snapped a streak of 12
consecutive at-bats in which he had reached base.