Phillies power up to claim series
Utley, Coste homer; Burrell, Howard go back-to-back
PHILADELPHIA -- Remember that vaunted, powerful Phillies offense you've heard so much about, the one that led the league in runs scored last season?It arrived Thursday, when the Phillies collected 16 hits in a 10-2 win over Houston, winning their second straight series against a National League Central opponent. "It's good to see our offense come alive," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "We could've scored more runs, but we left 11 guys on base. We didn't knock guys in with less than two outs, and we have to get better at that." Don't mistake Manuel's assessment for dissatisfaction. The manager will happily accept 10 runs from a team that averaged 4.27 per game through the first 15 and had already been shut out. In a lineup that consisted of the fourth No. 2 hitter (Greg Dobbs) in four games, and So Taguchi batting leadoff, the Phillies relied on thunder from the meat of the order. Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell homered in the same game for the first time this season in an equally distributed offensive attack. Only two of them had homered in the same game prior to Thursday, when Burrell and Utley did so on April 4. Every starting position player except Eric Bruntlett had at least two hits, while Chris Coste had four hits, including a home run. "As a team, we needed a game like this," Coste said. "It's a lot easier to hit when there are runs on the board, just like it's easier to pitch, like for [starter] Brett [Myers], when we got the lead. It becomes contagious. You go up there with nothing to lose and sometimes you have games like this. "I miss you guys [the media]. It's been a while since you've been over at this locker." Coste may have earned himself another start, given Carlos Ruiz's early struggles, and Taguchi will start Friday against Mets lefty Johan Santana. Myers welcomed the offense, which began with a three-run first inning off Astros starter Brandon Backe. Knowing that no lead is safe in Citizens Bank Park, Myers shut down Houston for seven innings, allowing one run on five hits and a walk, while striking out eight. "I had a terrible bullpen [warmup] today," he said. "I wasn't really focused enough until after that bad bullpen, then I got ticked off and concentrated a bit more." Myers turned in the 10th quality start -- at least six innings of allowing three or fewer runs -- in 16 games for the Phillies. He has two, and won Thursday by "attacking the strike zone." A strong offense meshed with a strong pitching performance. Go figure. "Sometimes it's random," Coste said. "Sometimes you'll throw horribly, but win because your team scored 10 runs. And some days you'll have a game like [Kyle] Kendrick did [Wednesday in a 2-1 loss]. Obviously, the pitchers have shown they will keep us in games. If we can put this together, we're going to be all right."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.