HOUSTON -- Manager Charlie Manuel would like to get outfielder John Bowker into more games. The opportunity simply hasn't presented itself much since Bowker's Aug. 30 acquisition from the Pirates for a player to be named (or cash considerations).

"I want to see [Bowker] sometime, but we still want the home-field advantage," Manuel said. "I haven't had a chance to play him, but all of a sudden we've got quite a bit of outfielders. It's been kind of tough for me to get him in the game."

Bowker spent most of the season with Triple-A Indianapolis and has just 22 official big league plate appearances, hitting .182 with no homers and two RBIs.

Bowker is listed as an outfielder, but he has played more games at first base (81) than either right field (44) or left (35).

"We plan on playing Bowker some," Manuel said. "We like him. Our reports are good on Bowker. They say he has a chance to be a good hitter."

Hamels understands grind of long season

HOUSTON -- All teams have their ups and downs over a 162-game regular season schedule. Tuesday's starting pitcher Cole Hamels has been there before.

"It's a grind, and you have to just grind away," Hamels said. "And sometimes when guys aren't able to have their best game you're hoping someone will pick you up. There are going to be those times where you're not [playing your best] but somebody, especially on the good teams, picks you up and you're able to squeak on by here and there."

It didn't happen for Hamels in Tuesday's loss to the Astros, but the left-hander has done his share of "picking up" this season.

"We were just kind of outplayed, and [we have to] go back to the drawing board and get after it again. I think it's more of a gut check. We are human, but we are good and we're not playing as good as we're capable of. It's not like we're pressing. We're just getting beat."

For the season, Hamels is 14-8 with a 2.71 ERA. He's thrown three complete games in 29 starts and 199 innings of work.

Phillies focused on finishing strong

HOUSTON -- John Mayberry, Jr., like the rest of his teammates, isn't happy that the Phillies have missed two consecutive opportunities to clinch a playoff berth at Minute Maid Park.

"I'm disappointed in our performance the last two nights," Mayberry said. "But you have to remain motivated regardless of the situation or the circumstances. We expect more out of ourselves."

Mayberry is fully aware of what the team is capable of and remains optimistic about the prospect of better days ahead.

"The last two nights are not characteristic of this ballclub," he said. "We need to turn it around and we need to do it as quickly as possible. We're in a good position, but we haven't clinched anything yet. So we have to finish strong. That's got to remain our focus."

Worth noting

• September has always been a good month for the Phillies. Since 2005, Philadelphia is tied with the Yankees for the Major League lead in wins (113) and win percentage (.635). Entering Wednesday's action, the Phillies were 8-5 this month.

• The Phillies went into their Wednesday afternoon contest with a Major League-best 30-16 record in day games, though they were just 14-11 on the road during the day.