For two players who took the same positions in a ballpark where they'd played for the home team so many times before, almost everything was different.

Even forgetting the literal — that Hunter Pence and Roy Oswalt had very different walks to the unfamiliar visitors' clubhouse at Minute Maid Park and wore a brighter shade of red — their circumstances were totally different than when they left Houston in twin July purges.

They're now competing for a playoff spot, a goal they advanced a little closer toward even with Monday's 5-1 loss to the Astros. And at least for Pence, despite hitting third and playing right field — same as it ever was — he fills a whole new role in the dynamic of the ballclub.

"We've got some great veterans, guys with a lot of accomplishments and achievements, so it's a great opportunity to learn a lot from some great minds in the game of baseball," Pence said.