PHILADELPHIA -- David Buchanan's first career hit bounced in the outfield grass at Citizens Bank Park, and the rookie pitcher kept running. He did not stop until he was tagged out at second base for the final out of the first inning.
Buchanan's overexuberant run may have been the biggest mistake he made Wednesday night in the Phillies' 10-3 win over the Astros. For that he can be excused; he had plenty of reasons to be eager.
Six days had passed since Cliff Lee stepped off the mound, pointed at his strained elbow and waved his arms in surrender. The consequences for his season and the Phillies' chances of trading him were as clear as the expletive he muttered.
The moment also had a crystallizing effect on Buchanan. He had vacated the rotation, sent to the minors to make room for Lee. Now he would have two months to prove he should not leave it next season.
One game will not make a referendum, but Buchanan's effort was promising enough. For his seventh straight major league start, Buchanan allowed three earned runs or fewer.
He did not dominate, but he protected the four-run lead he was given in the first inning. Buchanan threw 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on nine hits. He walked none and struck out five.
After allowing a first-inning run, he stranded two runners. The Astros left six men on base through the first seven innings.
Buchanan picked up where he left off before he was sent to triple-A Lehigh Valley. He pitched seven innings of four-hit ball in a 9-1 win over Milwaukee on July 10. He went 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA with the IronPigs.
Manager Ryne Sandberg hoped the Phillies' 2-1 win in a 15-inning, five-hour marathon Tuesday would invigorate an offense that had scored two runs in 36 innings. The Phillies scored eight in their first four innings Wednesday, and the old guard was largely responsible.
Ryan Howard showed another sign of exiting his malaise, going 2-for-4 with a two-run double in the first. Chase Utley snapped a 1-for-21 skid with a two-run homer in the fourth to make it 8-2. He went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs.
Even Buchanan joined the party. His first-inning single gave the Phillies a 5-1 lead.
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