Business as usual for former teammates
Bruntlett gets last laugh against Qualls with hit on Wednesday
PHOENIX -- Two former teammates took in a Cheesecake Factory lunch Wednesday, laughing and reminiscing about their days playing for the Astros.Hours later, it was all business when Eric Bruntlett batted against his good friend Chad Qualls. The Phillies trailed by a run and both had to wait out a lengthy delay following a collision at first base between Shane Victorino and Conor Jackson. Bruntlett, who grounded out on the first pitch from Qualls the night before, smacked the first offering to the left-field corner for a game-tying double. "He definitely got me once, and I got to get him back," Qualls said. "It was supposed to be a fastball away and came all the way back in and he hit it down the line. I'll have no hard feelings once he gets in there again." Technically, the two are even in their two-pitch meeting spread across two games, not that either is keeping score. Bruntlett and Qualls played against each other in college, and had been with the Astros organization together since 2002, and in Houston since 2004. "I've seen other teammates over the years, but facing pitchers is weird," Bruntlett. "He was trying to get my attention, but I couldn't look at him in the box the other night. You just have to separate the friendships when you're playing. On the field is one thing." Both have charted each other's progress. Bruntlett was well aware that Qualls hadn't allowed an earned run until Sunday, and Qualls knew all about Bruntlett's success while filling in for Jimmy Rollins. Qualls was also keenly in tune with closer Brad Lidge's performance, and found some wry humor in last night's outcome. Because he allowed the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, Lidge was now needed to protect a Phillies lead in the ninth. After the game, Lidge said he received a text message from Qualls. It read: "I guess I'm still setting up for you."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.