Hunter Pence ended his afternoon being pummeled, and he couldn't have been happier. It's much better to get beaten up by your own teammates than yourself, Pence figured.

The former happened, but if Pence hadn't hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning of Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Houston Astros at Citizens Bank Park, who knows where the jabs would have come from?

The Phillies (18-19) have now won three in a row for the first time this season.

Pence's ninth-inning error helped Houston tie the score 3-3 before he ended matters with his second home run of the game, a solo shot off former Phillie Brett Myers in the 10th.

And then came the greeting from his teammates.

"They beat me up and it was awesome," Pence said.

Helping Pence in the bailing-out procedure was rookie lefthander Jake Diekman, who made a memorable debut in the most difficult of circumstances.

The Phillies also got their first home run in more than a year from catcher Brian Schneider, and another sterling start from Cliff Lee, but it was Pence who clearly felt redemption.

He has had a few defensive gaffes this season and for somebody who was tied in the majors for the most outfield assists from 2008-2011 (52), few saw this coming.

On the positive side, Pence went 3-for-5 with the two home runs in his breakout game during this homestand finale.

Before Tuesday, Pence was 3-for-27 on the homestand and clearly pressing.

For one of the most likable players, the boos were resonating loud and clear, and Pence could understand the fans frustration.

"I love the fans whether they boo me or not and I am mad at myself when I don't get the job done," he said.

Despite his struggles, Pence is hitting .255 and leads the team in both home runs (9) and RBIs (25).

His biggest fault may be trying too hard.

That's why, besides getting knocked around by his teammates after rounding the bases on his game-winner, Pence experienced another feeling while crossing home plate.

"Relief," he said.

Lee, in his second start since coming off the disabled list with a left oblique strain, allowed just one run and five hits in eight innings, striking out 10. He threw 110 pitches and departed with a 3-1 lead after eight innings. As if he needed to say it, Lee pronounced himself fit.

"Pitch count is a non-issue," he said. "I feel I can go like normal."

With Jonathan Papelbon having pitched three consecutive days, Chad Qualls came on to pitch the ninth and allowed the first run on Carlos Lee's RBI single. Pinch runner Brian Bogusevic stole second, and after Qualls got Chris Johnson to ground out, J.D. Martinez hit a single to right.

And that's when Pence's day momentarily went south. Even though Bogusevic was held up at third, Pence charged the ball and lost the handle while attempting to throw. Bogusevic then easily scored the tying run.

"It came out of my hand," Pence said. "I was trying to fire it as hard as I could."

After Qualls surrendered a double to Jason Castro, putting runners on second and third, Diekman, who was recalled on Friday from Lehigh Valley, was brought in for his Major League debut.

Welcome to the big leagues.

Diekman then struck out Marwin Gonzalez to end the inning.

Showing a mid-90's fastball, Diekman retired the side in the 10th and would earn the win in a memorable debut.

"I don't think I'd ever dream of getting a win in my debut," Diekman said. "It was pretty crazy."

The whole game was, and an example came in the eighth inning when manager Charlie Manuel was ejected following an argument with home plate umpire Bob Davidson.

As for the offense, Schneider gave the Phillies a 2-0 second-inning lead with a two-run home run, his first since April 21, 2011.

Pence's solo home run extended the Phillies lead to 3-0 in the sixth and his defensive miscue helped force extra innings.

And then he ended it with one swing, giving the Phillies the win and Pence himself some much-needed peace of mind.

Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, mnarducci@phillynews.com or @sjnard on Twitter.