Astros keep heat on Cards, drop Phils into wild-card tie

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The surging Houston Astros have put their

vacation plans on hold.

Pinch-hitter Mike Lamb's infield single drove in the go-ahead

run in the seventh inning, lifting the Astros to their sixth

straight victory, 5-4 over the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday


Elias Says

Jimmy Rollins
Jimmy Rollins hit his 25th home run of the season, making the Phillies the first team in National League history and third team in major league history to have a second baseman and a shortstop with at least 25 home runs each. (Chase Utley has hit 31 home runs this year, including one as a designated hitter.) The Red Sox did it in 1948 and 1950 with second baseman Bobby Doerr (27 each season) and shortstop Vern Stephens (29 in 1948 and 30 in 1950).

• For more Elias Says, click here

The Phillies (82-74) dropped into a tie with Los Angeles for the

NL wild-card lead. Both teams have six games remaining in the

regular season -- all on the road.

Meanwhile, the Astros (78-78) moved within 2½ games of NL

Central-leading St. Louis. Houston swept a four-game series against

the Cardinals last weekend to cut the gap.

A week ago, the Astros were 8½ games behind the Cardinals and

getting ready to break out their golf clubs and hit the beaches.

Now, they're putting pressure on St. Louis, which has lost six


Players were glued to the television in the clubhouse watching

the final inning of San Diego's 6-5 win in St. Louis. It made the

one-day trip to Philadelphia to make up a Sept. 5 rainout worth the


"It turned out to be best for us," said manager Phil Garner,

whose team didn't arrive in Philadelphia until shortly before 4

a.m. EDT. "It worked out."

Jimmy Rollins hit a two-run homer off Dave Borkowski to give the

Phillies a 4-2 lead in the sixth, but the Astros answered against a

trio of relievers in the seventh.

Rick White got one out before walking Morgan Ensberg. Matt Smith

(0-1) entered and struck out Lance Berkman, but walked Luke Scott

and Chris Burke. Pinch-hitter Orlando Palmeiro followed with a

tying, two-run single to left off Geoff Geary. Burke went to third

on the play when left fielder Pat Burrell's throw home skipped past

catcher Mike Lieberthal for an error.

Burke scored the go-ahead run on Lamb's sharp single off second

baseman Utley's glove. Utley dove to his left to stop the ball, but

couldn't control it.

"We got six games to play and it's a tie," Phillies manager

Charlie Manuel said. "We have to keep winning. We didn't let

anything slip away yet."

Borkowski (3-2) allowed two runs in one inning, but got the win.

Chad Qualls retired his only batter, pinch-hitter Chris Coste, to

leave a runner on third in the eighth. Dan Wheeler pitched the

ninth for his eighth save, getting Utley on a game-ending popup

that left Ryan Howard on deck.

Houston used nine pitchers.

"I can't even read my lineup card," Garner said.

After falling behind 2-1, the Astros tied it on Jason Lane's

solo shot with one out in the sixth off Phillies starter Randy Wolf. Lane lined one into the seats in right-center for his 15th


But Rollins drove his 25th homer into the seats in right-center

to put Philadelphia ahead.

Rollins pointed to teammates in the dugout as he began his jog

around the bases and earned a curtain call from the sellout crowd

of 44,688 at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies scored two runs off Wandy Rodriguez in the fifth.

With the crowd chanting "M-V-P!" and standing the entire at-bat,

Howard ripped a single up the middle on a 1-2 pitch to score two

runs, giving the Phillies a 2-1 lead.

Ensberg's sacrifice fly in the fifth drove in the first run.

Philadelphia left the bases loaded twice. Lieberthal fouled out

to catcher Humberto Quintero to end the fourth, and Burrell hit a

shallow fly to right in the sixth.

"We have a resilient group," Wolf said. "We have a good mix

of young guys and veterans who keep a cool head."

The Phillies play three games at Washington and Florida, while

the Dodgers have three games in Colorado and San Francisco. If the

teams finish tied, a one-game playoff would be played next Monday

in Philadelphia.

The Astros finish with three games in Pittsburgh and three in


"We can play with anybody," Palmeiro said.

Chris Sampson made his second career start for the Astros,

lasting 3 2/3 innings and allowing three hits.Game notes
It was the 17th sellout of the season for the Phillies,

pushing the final attendance to 2,701,815, the third-highest total

in team history. ... Howard, who leads the majors with 58 homers,

tied Chuck Klein (1929) for fourth place on the club's

single-season list for RBI with 145. ... Wolf remained 4-0 and

hasn't lost since May 4, 2005, a span of 18 starts. The Phillies

fell to 13-3 in his last 16 starts.