Astros sweep four-game series from Phillies, in Philadelphia

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This afternoon Wandy Rodriguez and the Astros completed an unlikely four-game sweep of the Phillies, in Philadelphia.
Not only is it the first time the Phillies have been swept in a four-game series at home since 2002–in other words, before they’d even moved into their current ballpark–they came into the series having won 22 of 29 and the Astros came into the series at 53-69.
It’s been a long season in Houston, but former Phillies general manager Ed Wade must have at least enjoyed this series quite a bit, particularly since ex-Phillies Brett Myers, J.A. Happ, and Michael Bourn played big roles.
And as the Associated Press points out the Astros are somehow now 30-16 against the Phillies since 2004, which makes them the only NL team with a winning record during that time against the reigning back-to-back league champs. When not playing the Phillies, the Astros are 529-528 since 2004.
Philadelphia drops to three games behind Atlanta in the NL East and now trail San Francisco by a half-game in the Wild Card race. And if they fail to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006, you can be sure Phillies fans will think back to this brutal series as the reason.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.