Found May 13, 2012 on
Hunter Pence is mired in a difficult slump for a Philadelphia Phillies club that hasn't won consecutive games in two weeks.
Facing his former team may help get him - and the Phillies - back on track.
Philadelphia seeks its fifth win in the last seven meetings with the Houston Astros when it hosts the opener of a two-game set Monday night.
Pence was acquired in a trade from Houston on July 30 and helped the Phillies win their fifth straight NL East title last season. The start of 2012, though, hasn't gone as well for Pence nor Philadelphia.
He hit .316 with three homers and four doubles during a nine-game hitting streak from April 28-May 6, but he hasn't had nearly the same success since.
Pence is 2 for 23 (.087) with a homer and a triple over his last six games after going 0 for 4 in Sunday's 3-2 win over San Diego, dropping his season average to .243.
"The way he approaches hitting, he will always swing at some balls out of the strike zone," manager Charlie Manuel told the team's official website. "Right now you've got to kind of accept that and hope he gets good balls to hit."
Pence went 4 for 11 with a homer and a double in a three-game series against the Astros from Sept. 12-14 - his only games against his former team. He'll look for similar success as the Phillies (16-19) seek back-to-back victories for the first time since beating the Chicago Cubs on April 30 and Atlanta on May 1.
Jimmy Rollins hit his first home run Sunday for Philadelphia, which won while scoring less than four runs for the first time since April 19.
''I think we've got to add on when we score runs and we got to put some teams away," Manuel said. "We're having a lot of trouble doing that right now."
Joe Blanton (3-3, 3.24 ERA) will be on the mound looking to bounce back from a mediocre outing.
Blanton threw a three-hitter in a 4-0 win over Atlanta on May 3, then walked a season-high three - equaling his total from his first six starts combined - and allowed four runs in 6 2-3 innings of Philadelphia's 7-4 loss to the New York Mets on Tuesday.
The right-hander is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in four appearances - three starts - in his career versus Houston, which fell 3-2 in 12 innings to Pittsburgh on Sunday.
The Astros (15-19) have lost five of seven following their season-high five-game winning streak from April 30-May 5.
Lucas Harrell (2-2, 4.58) takes the hill looking to overcome a rough stretch.
Harrell allowed three runs - two earned - in 5 1-3 innings in Houston's 5-3 loss in 12 innings to Miami on Wednesday. Since pitching seven scoreless innings in a win over Colorado on April 7, he's 1-2 with a 5.57 ERA in six starts.
"It was just one of those things I feel like the last couple of times out," Harrell told the team's official website. "I'm one or two pitches away from turning the corner and having a really good start, and it's kind of gone the other way again."
The right-hander has never faced the Phillies.
Philadelphia swept a three-game series April 1-3, 2011, in Houston's last visit to Citizens Bank Park.
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