There's no team in baseball that can afford to blow leads in the heat of a postseason run.
The Philadelphia Phillies are guilty of that, but look to stay the course when Cole Hamels takes the mound in the second installment of a four-game series against the lowly Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Hamels will try to pitch the Phillies back into the win column after they blew a 4-0 lead in last night's 6-4 loss. Hamels is 3-0 in his last six starts and hasn't recorded a decision in each of his previous three. He delivered seven innings of two-run ball in a 3-2 win over Colorado on Sunday and is 14-6 with a 3.03 earned run average in 27 starts this season.
The left-hander and 2008 World Series MVP is 8-3 in 14 road starts and 3-3 with a 5.02 ERA in nine career starts against the Astros.
Philadelphia slipped to four games off the final wild card spot in the National League with Thursday's loss, and gave up three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Jed Lowrie had a two-run double and scored on Brandon Barnes' single to center field.
Phillippe Aumont was charged with the loss and starter Tyler Cloyd lasted just three innings, allowing three runs and five hits. Ryan Howard, John Mayberry, Kevin Frandsen and Erik Kratz each had an RBI for the Phillies, whose season- high seven-game winning streak came to an end.
"We just wanted to play like we always do," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said afterward. "You have to play as hard as you can. Two teams are playing, that's no excuse."
The Phillies are still 15-5 in their last 20 games and will also visit the New York Mets for three games on this road trip.
Houston will try to play spoiler once again and has alternated wins and losses over its previous eight games.
Lowrie and Barnes highlighted the decisive eighth inning, while Matt Dominguez crushed a three-run home run for the Astros.
Wesley Wright picked up the win after getting the final two outs in the eighth and Wilton Lopez worked around a leadoff single in the ninth to nail down his fifth save. Lucas Harrell started for the 'Stros and was hit for four runs -- three earned -- in 5 2/3 innings for the no-decision.
"I couldn't throw anything for a strike," Harrell said. "I pitched horrible. The guys battled."
Edgar Gonzalez will make his third start of the season for Houston tonight and has won the first two trips to the mound. Gonzalez threw 5 1/3 innings of one- run ball at Pittsburgh on Sept. 3, then held the Reds to a run in five innings of a 5-1 road win over Cincinnati on Sunday.
Gonzalez, a right-hander, has no record and a 15.75 ERA in two career relief appearances against the Phillies, spanning four innings.
The Astros were swept in a two-game set at Philadelphia from May 14-15 and have lost six of the previous nine matchups between the two clubs.