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ATL@PHI: Oswalt strikes out seven over seven innings

If history is any indication, Monday could be a very happy return for Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence.

The Phillies will look to stay perfect this season against the Astros -- and clinch a playoff berth with a win and a Cardinals loss in Pittsburgh -- as Oswalt and Pence both make their first trip back to Minute Maid Park in Houston to square off against their former club.

The Phillies' magic number to clinch at least a Wild Card berth is two, so they are poised to reach the postseason for a fifth consecutive season.

Pence was dealt to first-place Philadelphia on July 29, while Oswalt was also traded from the Astros to the Phillies exactly one year earlier. Both have been instrumental in Philadelphia's recent success -- the Phillies' magic number to win the National League East is down to six games -- while Houston dwells in the NL Central cellar.

"It's going to be interesting -- we're facing Roy and Hunter will be in right [field]," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "I'm sure that both of those guys are thinking that it's going to be really interesting for them to come back and play in front of the fans they played in front of for so many years. For the fans, it's going to be really interesting to see them in another uniform."

Astros fans have had a brief chance to see Oswalt in a Phillies uniform, though not in Houston. His first start of the year -- a victory -- came against the Astros in Philadelphia.

"It should be fun," Oswalt said. "It should be a little different. I've been there for a long time, but it should be fun."

Pence, too, has performed well with the Phils since the move. He's started every game since the trade and finished August with a .340 average, seven homers and 16 RBIs.

"I'm just going to go play hard, go have fun," Pence said. "That's what I've always done my whole career. It's a familiar park. I've been there a lot. It is what it is."

The Phillies have won six of seven, outscoring opponents in those games, 35-15.

Houston has won six of its last 13 games and is 11-13 in its last 24 contests.

Phillies: On the road again
Playing away from Philadelphia certainly doesn't seem to faze the Phils, who are 20-6 in their last 26 road games and have won 10 of 13 away from home.

The Phillies own baseball's best road record, at 45-27, and that win total is tied for fourth-most in a single season in club history. The franchise's high mark is 48 wins (1976, 2009).

• On Aug. 29, Philadelphia began a stretch of 33 games in 31 days to end the season and is 11-3.

Astros: Myers on the hill Monday
Right-hander Brett Myers, a former Phillie, gets the ball in the opener, looking to win back-to-back decisions for the first time this season.

Myers was excellent in his last outing, against the Pirates, when he allowed just one earned run on four hits over 7 2/3 innings for the victory.

"I just try to go out there and give quality starts," Myers said after the last start, his first win since June 17. "If I get a win, I get a win. I'm trying to help the ballclub win games, but it's always good to get a win for myself, too."

• Carlos Lee, who has reached the 80-RBI plateau in each of his 13 Major League seasons, has hit safely in 19 of his last 20 games, with four homers and 13 RBIs in that span.

Entering 2011, Lee was tied with Chipper Jones and Jim Thome as the only active players to achieve 12 80-RBI seasons. Alex Rodriguez (15) is the only active player with more.

Worth noting
• The Phillies, 3-0 against Houston this year, have outscored the Astros, 21-11.

• Houston has won eight of its last 11 home games and is 12-12 at Minute Maid Park since the All-Star break. Comments