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Mills impressed with Pence's play as of late

Mills impressed with Pence's play as of late

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CHICAGO -- Astros manager Brad Mills has certainly enjoyed what he has seen in the second half of the season from right fielder Hunter Pence, who prior to Monday, was batting .329 with 11 homers and 42 RBIs since July 1.

Pence, who entered the opener against the Cubs leading the team in batting average (.291), home runs (22) and was second behind Carlos Lee in RBIs (79), hit a rare home run to straightaway right field Sunday at Arizona, which Mills sees as a good sign.

"He's doing everything more consistently, which is nice," Mills said. "He's definitely swinging with more confidence. He's swinging the bat better and maybe seeing the ball better. He's confident he can hit the ball to right field and hit it out. That means you can wait longer and see the ball longer."

Pence needs three homers to reach 25 for the third consecutive season and is four RBIs shy of his career high of 83, set in 2008 in his first full season in the Major Leagues. Prior to Monday, he had hit safely in 44 of 52 games since July 6.

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