Reserve catcher Brian Schneider had been showing signs of increased offensive production even before his first home run in more than a year during Tuesday's 4-3 Phillies win in 10 innings over the Houston Astros at Citizens Bank Park.
Schneider, now hitting .303, began the season 0 for 8, but he was 8 for his last 21 at-bats entering the game and then went 2 for 4 with a two-run home run in the win.
That was his first home run in 145 at-bats since April 21, 2011, against the San Diego Padres.
"To give the team a little bit of run support always feels good," Schneider said.
Even though he is known for his defense, Schneider hit a career-low .176 last season (22 for 125) with two home runs and nine RBIs.
"I know I was a better hitter than that," Schneider said.
He expressed those feelings to manager Charlie Manuel.
"He hit in tough luck last year, and when we signed him, the day before he e-mailed me and said he would hit better this year," Manuel said. "And I am holding him to it."
That drew laughter, but Schneider is serious about improving at the plate and putting last year behind him.
Former Phillies righthander Brett Myers surrendered Hunter Pence's game-winning home run with one out in the 10th inning.
"It was a cutter away and it didn't sound good at all," Myers said of the sound of bat hitting ball. "I thought it broke his bat, honestly. But I mean, he's strong in this ballpark, and makes this place look small anyway. He's a strong guy."
Despite the loss, Myers has pitched well as the Astros closer and could be of value to a team at the trade deadline. He has a 2.08 ERA and nine saves in 14 appearances, covering 13 innings.
To show that wins for a pitcher can be overrated, Cliff Lee is 0-1 this season in five starts. Lee, making his second start since coming off the disabled list with a strained abdominal muscle, has a 1.95 ERA. He struck out 10, the 19th double-figure strikeout total of his career, and 11th as a Phillie.
As for not getting the win despite leading 3-1 after eight innings?
"Whether we score runs I can't control. Actually I can do my part with the bat, but other than that I'm not worried about it," he said.
Chad Qualls said he felt fine physically after another difficult outing. Qualls suffered his fourth blown save when he inherited a 3-1 lead entering the ninth inning and allowed two runs on four hits in two-thirds of an inning.
Qualls has appeared four times in the last five days, but he said fatigue wasn't a factor.
"I feel great," he said.
In his last 10 games covering 71/3 innings, Qualls has a 7.36 ERA. A righthander with a hard sinker, he said less would be more when throwing his signature pitch.
"Instead of throwing 95-96 [m.p.h.], if I get back to 93 and let my ball sink the way it should, I will get better results," he said.
This was Houston's last game in Philadelphia as a member of the National League. The Astros will join the American League next season. . . . The Phillies are now 1-4 in extra-inning games, while Houston is 0-5. . . . The Phillies had their 222d consecutive sellout with an announced crowd of 43,781. That is the smallest total since the sellout streak began. The capacity is 43,651.