Astros 3, Phillies 2

So, what’s the baseline?

Brett Myers threw seven sharp innings against his former team,
Carlos Lee hit a go-ahead two-run single in the eighth and the
Houston Astros took advantage of a controversial call to beat the
Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 on Monday night.

The wild card-leading Phillies, who entered 2 1/2 games behind
Atlanta in the NL East, lost for just the sixth time in their last
30 home games.

Down 2-1, the Astros rallied in the eighth against Ryan Madson
(4-2). Another pair of former Phillies got things started, helping
Myers (9-7) win his first start against Philadelphia.

Pinch-hitter Jason Michaels led off the eighth with a single.
Michael Bourn then reached on a drag bunt, barely avoiding Ryan
Howard’s diving tag and causing manager Charlie Manuel to get
ejected by first-base umpire Greg Gibson.

With a sellout crowd chanting ”Charlie! Charlie!” and second
baseman Chase Utley pointing to the spot where Bourn appeared to
step out of the baseline, Manuel got tossed for making his case.
Utley, who rarely argues, then briefly exchanged words with
Gibson.

After Angel Sanchez sacrificed the runners, Madson fanned Hunter
Pence for the second out. But Lee lined a single to left to give
the Astros a 3-2 lead.

Afterward, Manuel and some of his players were fuming that Bourn
wasn’t called out of the baseline. Making it worse, Gibson tossed
Manuel from a game against Cleveland on June 24 for arguing a
similar play the opposite way. Gibson called Shane Victorino out of
the baseline as he dove into first base to avoid a tag.

”He went out of the baseline, but (Gibson) didn’t see it that
way,” Manuel said.

When Gibson was asked for a comment by a pool reporter, crew
chief Sam Holbrook said umpires are not allowed to talk per major
league baseball’s instructions. However, umpires have discussed
controversial calls several times this season.

Howard said players have a difficult time understanding the
baseline rule.

Rule 7.08 states: A runner’s baseline is established when the
tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the
base he is attempting to reach safely.

”They have to come up with some kind of consistency for the
rule,” Howard said. ”Everybody isn’t sure. There’s a lot of gray
area. There is no understanding.”

Pitching in a steady drizzle, Myers gave up two runs and nine
hits, striking out nine. Myers has pitched at least six innings in
each of his 26 starts, tying Larry Dierker’s franchise record. It’s
the longest streak to start a season since Curt Schilling had 35
straight in 2002.

Tim Byrdak pitched a scoreless eighth and Brandon Lyon finished
for his seventh save in eight chances. Lyon retired Jimmy Rollins
on a hard liner to left with the tying run on second to end it.

Phillies starter Joe Blanton allowed one run and six hits in
seven innings, striking out a season-high nine batters.

Myers, who was Philadelphia’s opening-day starter the previous
three seasons, is one of five former Phillies on Houston’s roster.
He received a warm reception from fans.

”How respectful they were to me in the bullpen shows that this
city has a big heart for players who accomplished things for
them,” Myers said. ”They showed me respect.”

A first-round pick in 1999, Myers had 73 wins and 21 saves in
eight seasons in Philadelphia. He was 2-1 during the 2008
postseason, helping the Phillies win the World Series.

Carlos Ruiz hit a solo homer off Myers to tie it at 1 in the
third. Blanton and Rollins followed with consecutive one-out
singles. After Blanton was thrown out trying to score on
Victorino’s grounder to first, Utley’s RBI single put the Phillies
up 2-1.

Bourn started the game with a single, stole second, advanced to
third on Sanchez’s single and scored on Pence’s sacrifice fly. Lee
followed with a double to right-center. A perfect relay throw from
Utley and excellent block at the plate by Ruiz prevented Sanchez
from scoring on the hit.

The Astros are the only NL team with a winning record against
the Phillies since 2004, going 27-16.

Notes: The Phillies added Hall of Fame pitcher Bruce Sutter to
their minor league staff as a pitching consultant. Sutter had 300
career saves in a 12-year career with the Cubs, Cardinals and
Braves. … A crowd of 44,081 was the 104th straight sellout at
Citizens Bank Park. … Manuel has been tossed five times this
year. … Blanton is 4-1 since June 12, lowering his ERA from 7.28
to 5.32. He gave up another first-inning run, and has allowed 20 in
21 starts this season. … Philadelphia’s Jayson Werth was picked
off second base after ball four of an intentional walk to Ruiz.