Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Chris Johnson’s infield single scored the go-ahead run in the 16th inning, as the Houston Astros pulled out a 4-2 win over the Phillies in a battle of attrition at Citizens Bank Park.
The game was the longest of each team’s season, lasted five hours and 20 minutes, and forced both teams to empty their benches. In fact, following Ryan Howard’s ejection at the end of the 14th inning, the Phillies had no more position players left and were forced to play pitcher and former Astro Roy Oswalt in left field.
The contest only went to extra innings after Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins hit a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, tying the game at 2-2.
Johnson finished with four hits, while Carlos Lee hit a two-run homer for the Astros, who also beat the Phillies on Monday in the opener of this four-game series.
Raul Ibanez doubled twice and drove in a run for the Phillies, who lost for the fourth time in six games. However, they remained 2 1/2 games behind first- place Atlanta in the NL East, as the Braves lost to Colorado on Tuesday. The Phils are also even with San Francisco for the wild card lead.
In the decisive inning, David Herndon (1-3) returned to the mound for his third inning of work for the Phillies, and things quickly fell apart for the rookie reliever.
With one out, Hunter Pence reached on an infield single before Herndon hit Brett Wallace in the leg. A wild pitch allowed the runners to move into scoring position, and Herndon intentionally walked Jason Michaels to load the bases, setting up a force play at every base.
Johnson then hit a ball toward the left side, and third baseman Placido Polanco dove to stop it. Polanco went to second to try to start a double play, but the throw was too late, and the relay to first was also late. Pence scored on the play to put the Astros in front. Wallace then scored when Tommy Manzella grounded into a fielder’s choice.
The Phillies put two on with two out in the bottom half, but Jeff Fulchino (1-0) retired Oswalt to end the game.
That the teams would play nearly an entire extra game was not a prevailing thought when Rollins stepped to the plate with the Phillies down to their final out in the ninth inning, trailing 2-1, and Wilton Lopez on the mound.
Philadelphia was merely trying to survive, while Lopez, who entered the game with a scoreless streak of 19 2/3 innings, was trying to nail down the save.
Rollins stepped to the plate and took two straight balls on the way to a 3-1 count. Lopez’s fifth pitch was a fastball middle-in, and Rollins crushed it deep to right field to tie the game.
Houston threatened to re-take the lead in the 11th, when Pence and Wallace singled with one out. But Jose Contreras got Michaels to pop out to second, where Chase Utley made the catch to start a double play.
The Phillies threatened in the bottom of the 14th, when Polanco singled with two outs and Utley followed with a walk. A wild pitch allowed the runners to advance with Howard at the plate.
Howard fouled a ball off before being called on a check swing by third base umpire Scott Barry. Later in the at-bat, with the count at 1-2, Howard checked his swing again on a curveball, and again the appeal went to Barry. It appeared as though Howard was able to check his swing, and it was certainly close. But Barry ruled that Howard went around, setting off a volatile reaction by the first baseman, who had just struck out for the fifth time.
He tossed his bat and helmet, and Barry responded by tossing him out of the game. That only further incensed Howard, who began to walk toward third base, but was held back.
“Disagreements on the field happen,” Ibanez said. “It’s part of the game. We go after each game and approach it as business as usual.”
Beyond Howard being angry, the Phillies had no position players left, so they were forced to play Oswalt in left field. Ibanez moved to first, and both made a play in the top of the 15th.
Jason Castro hit a fly almost directly at Oswalt, who made the catch as the crowd erupted in cheers. Later, the speedy Michael Bourn tried to reach base on a bunt, which he directed toward Ibanez. But Ibanez, who has played first in his career, fielded it cleanly and dove to tag the base for the third out of the frame.
However, Fulchino quickly halted the Phillies’ momentum by holding them off the scoreboard in the bottom half.
The game began as a pitchers’ duel between Houston’s Bud Norris and Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels. Norris allowed just one run on five hits and three walks in six innings, while Hamels gave up two runs — Lee’s homer — in seven innings. The left-hander allowed up a total of five hits, walked one and struck out eight.
“As long as I’ve been here the last year and this year, we play tough against the Phillies every time,” Norris said. “We know for years to come that’s the kind of caliber team we want to be.”
Until Rollins’ home run, Hamels was in line for another tough-luck loss, as he gave up Lee’s two-run shot in the fourth inning and the Phillies had not scored. Philadelphia, in fact, had not scored a single run when Hamels was in the game over his last three starts coming into Tuesday — a stretch of 20 innings.
That scoreless streak continued until Ibanez hit an RBI double in the sixth inning, getting the Phillies within 2-1.
The Phillies had won seven straight extra-inning games…Lopez’s scoreless streak, which was the longest active streak in the majors, was extended to 20 2/3 innings before Rollins homered…Rollins was caught stealing for the first time all season. He had been 15-for-15…The game equaled the longest in Citizens Bank Park history (July 2, 2004). The Phillies last played a 16- inning game on May 23, 2006, against the Mets in New York…Oswalt became the first Phillies pitcher to play a position in a game since Bill Wilson manned third base on August 6, 1971.