Final

Series: Game 3 of 3

Houston won 3-0

Game 1: Monday, August 23
Philadelphia4Final
Houston8
Game 2: Tuesday, August 24
Philadelphia2Final
Houston4
Game 3: Wednesday, August 25
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Houston7

Phillies 4

(62-65, 32-32 away)

Astros 7

(64-62, 33-33 home)

    2:05 PM ET, August 25, 2004

    Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas 

    123456789 R H E
    PHI 011010100 4 5 0
    HOU 01001104 - 7 7 0

    W: C. Qualls (2-0)

    L: F. Rodriguez (5-7)

    S: B. Lidge (17)

    Kent HR breaks 8th-inning knot

    CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) -- Billy Wagner beat his former team Monday when rookie Anthony Medrano hit a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth inning to rally the Philadelphia Phillies to a 9-8 victory over the Houston Astros.

    Pat Burrell hit a two-run homer, and Placido Polanco and Jimmy Rollins also connected for the Phillies, giving new manager Charlie Manuel his first victory after opening spring training with four straight losses.

    "You're supposed to win every now and then, right?" Manuel said. "The fans now see we can win games."

    Facing the Astros for the first time since being traded to Philadelphia in November 2003, Wagner got a small bit of revenge against Houston's lineup of mostly rookies and reserves.

    Wagner allowed two hits during a scoreless eighth inning and earned the win on Medrano's game-ending single.

    "I don't think there's nearly the emotions there were last season," said Wagner, who missed both three-game series against Houston because of injuries. "They only had one or two guys here that I knew, but when I see some of the older guys I'm sure it'll still be emotional."

    Astros regulars Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio or Brad Ausmus, three teammates and close friends of Wagner during his eight years in Houston, didn't make the trip.

    Wagner took another step toward proving that he's finally healthy after two trips to the disabled list in 2004 forced him to miss almost three months of the season.

    In his first year with the Phillies after becoming a dominant closer in Houston, Wagner was 4-0 with a 2.42 ERA and 21 saves in 25 chances. He had a 1.69 ERA in save situations.

    But Wagner never got in a groove after missing the first two weeks of spring training with a finger injury. He later spent time on the DL with a strained groin, back spasms and a strained rotator cuff.

    Wagner altered his workout regimen in the offseason, incorporating more arm weights in an exercise program devised by team trainers. He waited two extra weeks before starting to throw in January.

    He even takes longer to warm up now, making sure he's loose before he throws. Only time will tell if that's enough to keep him injury-free.

    "I don't feel I have to prove anything to my teammates this time," Wagner said. "This time I just want to stay healthy."

    Meanwhile, Philadelphia's defense and starter Cory Lidle continued to struggle.

    Lidle, part of the Phillies' ineffective rotation last season, had his second rough start of the spring Monday. He gave up three hits, including a three-run homer to Astros non-roster invitee Carlos Rivera, in the first of his three innings.

    "To me, it's kind of hard," Lidle said of facing Rivera. "I'd rather know who I'm facing, even if it's a good player."

    The Phillies compounded their problems by committing three errors and giving up three unearned runs in the fourth inning.

    Philadelphia overcame that sloppy effort by taking advantage of Houston's pitching trio of Carlos Hernandez, Pete Munro and Tim Redding. The Phillies scored more runs against the Astros (9) than they did during their four losses to open the spring (8).

    That fact definitely bothered Astros manager Phil Garner, who will probably settle on one of those three for the fifth spot in the Astros' starting rotation.

    "We couldn't keep a lead," Garner said.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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