05/17/2003 10:34 PM ET
Astros aim for series win
Houston (23-19) vs. Phillies (23-19) 7:05 p.m. CT
By Gene Duffey / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- The Astros finally stumbled Saturday against Philadelphia after winning 12 out of 15. Saturday's 9-4 loss ended an eight-game home winning streak by Houston.
Philadelphia took two out of three from Houston last weekend in Philly. Sunday's game will decide the winner of this series, the final meeting of the year.
The Astros are in the middle of a three-team, nine-game homestand. They are off Monday, then welcome St. Louis followed by the Chicago Cubs into Minute Maid Park.
Houston has scored four or more runs in six of its last seven games. The bullpen had been brilliant before allowing six runs Saturday to the Phillies.
Pitching matchup:2003 record: 3-2, 3.32
Lifetime vs. PHI: 1-0, 2.77
PHI: RHP Kevin Millwood
HOU: RHP Tim Redding
2003 record: 5-1, 3.19
Lifetime vs. HOU: 3-2, 3.43
Players to watch: Houston's third base combination of starter Geoff Blum and replacement Morgan Ensberg has been doing more than their job. Blum hit a two-run homer in Friday night's 4-2 win over Philadelphia. Ensberg got the start Saturday and reached base five times with a single, double, triple and two walks, raising his average to .314. Blum is hitting .293.
Quotable: Houston manager Jimy Williams on his third base tandem of Geoff Blum and Morgan Ensberg -- "Both guys are hitting the ball and playing well defensively. I told Blum, 'You hit a two-run homer and you're not in the lineup [the next day].' Now what do I tell Ensberg?"
On the Internet: Gameday
Astros: KTRH 740 AM
Phillies: WPEN 950 AM
Quick hits: The Astros collected six double plays Saturday against Philadelphia, all on ground balls. It was the first time they had six double play grounders in a game since May 8, 1988 vs. Montreal. . . . Third baseman Geoff Blum played left field Saturday for the first time this year after Lance Berkman was ejected in the bottom of the seventh. Blum last played in the outfield Sept. 22, 2002 at St. Louis. . . .Morgan Ensberg's three hits Saturday tied his career high, also accomplished April 18 this year at Milwaukee. . . .Placido Polanco's solo homer Saturday off Ricky Stone broke a string of 10 2/3 scoreless innings by Stone. . . .Right-hander Scott Linebrink, who pitched 5 1/3 innings on Saturday, has no-decisions in his five starts this year. His only verdict was a loss in 1 1/3 innings of relief April 19 at Milwaukee.
Sunday's forecast is for partly cloudy skies, no rain, a high of 89 degrees, cooling down to an almost chilly 71 late Sunday night. The roof at Minute Maid Park was open Friday night and closed Saturday afternoon.
Sunday, Phillies, 7:05, CT; Monday, off; Tuesday, Cardinals, 7:05 p.m., CT; Wednesday, Cardinals, 7:05 p.m. CT; Thursday, Cardinals, 7:05 p.m. CT
Gene Duffey is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.