Phillies look to open up offense vs. Astros

Phillies look to open up offense vs. Astros

PHILADELPHIA -- It has been a rough month for the Phillies offensively.

It especially has been rough with runners in scoring position.

The Phillies, who open a four-game series Friday night against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park, entered Thursday's series finale against the Giants having scored just 11 runs in their previous six games and hitting just .152 (7-for-46) with runners in scoring position in that span. But it hasn't been just a week-long drought. The Phillies have hit just .208 with runners in scoring position since July 26, averaging just 4.1 runs per game after averaging 5.5 runs per game their first 96 games of the season.

If it seems like the Phillies have had a tough time knocking in runs with the bases loaded or runners on third with less than two outs, it seems that way to Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, too.

But he sees that problem everywhere in baseball these days.

"I think the game is about numbers and the game is about hitting homers," Manuel said. "I see guys definitely don't cut their swing with two strikes, bases loaded, nobody out, things like that. I see a lot of that. I can watch teams play, especially when I'm at home or something, I see the way they play and they mostly swing for extra-base hits or home runs. They want production. That's probably because if you have huge production you get paid. They don't get paid by moving the runner, but at the same time they do because the good baseball people see that and they become a winning player that way."

Pitching matchup
PHI: LHP Cliff Lee (12-10, 2.83 ERA)
Lee suffered his worst start with the Phillies on Saturday against the Braves when he allowed 10 hits and six runs in just five innings. It was Lee's shortest start and most runs allowed since June 30, when he lasted just three innings and allowed seven runs against the White Sox. It was the first time he had allowed three home runs since June 8, 2007, against Cincinnati, and just the seventh time in his career it happened. That said, he is 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA since joining Philadelphia.

HOU: LHP Wandy Rodriguez (12-9, 2.93 ERA)
After going 4-0 with a 0.75 ERA in July and being named the Pitcher of the Month for the National League, the left-hander went 2-3 with a 4.00 ERA in August. Those numbers were skewed by his Aug. 14 start against the Brewers in which he gave up 10 hits and 10 runs in four innings. In his previous start Sunday in Arizona, he allowed seven hits and four runs in six innings. Rodriguez has appeared in three games against the Phillies (one start) in his career and is 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA.

Tidbits
Jimmy Rollins leads National League shortstops with a .994 fielding percentage. He has made just three errors this season, and none in his previous 80 games. ... Former Phillies catcher Chris Coste is hitting .203 with nine RBIs in 79 at-bats with the Astros. He was hitting .245 with two homers and eight RBIs in 102 at-bats for the Phillies earlier this season. ... The Phillies entered Thursday with 71 quality starts, which is seventh-best in the Majors.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• CSN

On radio
• WPHT 1210, WUBA 1480 (Español)

Up next
• Saturday: Phillies (Joe Blanton, 9-6, 3.77) at Astros (Roy Oswalt, 8-5, 3.80), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Phillies (Cole Hamels, 8-8, 4.26) at Astros (Bud Norris, 3-3, 6.61), 2:05 p.m. ET
• Monday: Phillies (J.A. Happ, 10-4, 2.77) at Astros (TBD), 2:05 p.m. ET

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.