Halladay aims for fifth straight win versus Astros

The Philadelphia Phillies have put themselves back in playoff conversations despite a lack of vintage Roy Halladay.

The former Cy Young winner, though, can win a fifth straight decision on Sunday afternoon and pitch his Phils to a much-needed split of a four-game series with the Houston Astros.

Halladay reached double-digit wins for the eighth straight season on Tuesday as he won a 9-7 decision over the Miami Marlins. He improved to 10-7 with a 4.01 earned run average despite allowing five runs on seven hits and three walks over 6 1/3 innings.

Though the right-hander is 4-0 over his last five starts, he has a 4.73 ERA in that span while giving up at least four runs in three of those outings.

"It was just one of those games where I felt really good early on. I felt like we were making pitches," Halladay said after besting the Marlins. "It ends up being closer than you want, but we got out with a win."

The 35-year-old is 2-1 with a 1.16 ERA in four career starts versus the Astros, who counter the veteran with 21-year-old Jordan Lyles.

Lyles will face the Phillies for the second time in his young career and did not factor into a May 15 start in Philadelphia. Lyles allowed three runs -- one earned -- on six hits over six innings, getting taken deep twice.

The right-hander has doubled his season win total by going 2-1 over his last four starts and beat the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. Lyles hurled five scoreless innings of two-hit ball, walking two in a 1-0 win that upped his season numbers to 4-11 with a 5.33 ERA through 22 starts.

The Astros have done some damage to the Phillies' playoff hopes by taking two of three so far in this series. They snapped Philadelphia's seven-game win streak in Thursday's opener and notched a 5-0 triumph on Saturday.

Dallas Keuchel scattered five hits and four walks over 5 1/3 scoreless innings to win just his second game of the season for Houston.

"I got too wrapped up in results, trying to get good results," Keuchel said. "That's not how it's supposed to be. I'm headed in the right direction."

Justin Maxwell gave Keuchel all the support he would need with a two-run homer.

The red-hot Kyle Kendrick, who came into the contest 5-1 with a minuscule 1.49 ERA over his last six starts, surrendered four runs on seven hits in five innings for the Phillies, who sit three games behind the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers for the National League's second wild-card spot.

"We really can't afford to lose games," Kendrick said.

Philadelphia was 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded the bases loaded in the first and fourth frames.

The Astros were swept in a two-game set at Philadelphia from May 14-15 and have lost seven of the previous 11 matchups between the two clubs.