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Matsuzaka holds ball, Mets lose to Phillies 6-2

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NEW YORK (AP)

Daisuke Matsuzaka seemed much more interested in holding the ball than throwing it Wednesday night.

Cole Hamels pitched seven strong innings and handed himself some much-needed run support, sending the Philadelphia Phillies to a 6-2 victory over Matsuzaka and the New York Mets.

Working in no hurry whatsoever, Matsuzaka (0-2) labored through 4 1-3 innings on Japanese Heritage Night in his second start for the new-look Mets, who have dropped six of seven. Depleted by key injuries and Tuesday's trade that sent Marlon Byrd and John Buck to Pittsburgh, New York fell to 2-6 on a nine-game homestand.

''Today's game was pretty self-explanatory, I think,'' Matsuzaka said through a translator. ''I was all over the place today, all over the zone.''

The right-hander took an interminable amount of time between pitches and threw 82 over the first three innings. Hamels worked at a much faster pace but irritated fans by making seven straight tosses to first base with Eric Young Jr. aboard.

Young stole second anyway.

One night after Jonathon Niese's three-hit shutout for the Mets lasted 2 hours, 19 minutes, that's how long it took to play 5 1/2 innings in a game between also-rans that ultimately dragged on for 3:32.

About halfway through, a television camera fixed on Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee spinning a crushed water bottle in the dugout.

''I do know the history of, you know, he does take some time between pitches. But I will tell you, his stuff's good enough,'' New York manager Terry Collins said about Matsuzaka. ''Tonight the command was off and therefore he was off.''

While rain postponed several afternoon tennis matches at the U.S. Open next door, the Phillies and Mets stayed dry throughout a drab evening that matched the pace of the game.

The Mets made three errors after going six games without one, which tied a season high.

Carlos Ruiz homered and the Phillies overcame a couple of mental mistakes by Jimmy Rollins to win for only the third time in 17 road games. Hamels hit a two-run single to help Philadelphia improve to 8-5 under interim manager Ryne Sandberg.

Left sitting in the dugout for long stretches, Hamels maintained his focus and walked away a winner after 3 1/2 hours of dreary baseball.

''I'm glad I play it, but I wouldn't be watching it,'' he said.

Hindered by the fifth-worst run support in the majors this season, Hamels (6-13) worked around nine hits and improved to 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in six August starts. The left-hander struck out eight, walked one and upped his career record to 7-12 against the Mets.

Hamels grounded a two-run single to left field off reliever Robert Carson in the fifth to make it 4-1. That gave Hamels, a career .170 hitter entering the game, four RBIs this season and answered a three-run double by Niese the previous night.

Rollins failed to cover third base on a third-inning popup along the third base line. Noticing that the shortstop was flat-footed, the speedy Young alertly tagged up at second and beat Rollins and Ruiz to the bag.

Ike Davis followed with an RBI single on an 0-2 pitch, his 10th hit in 67 at-bats (.149) against left-handers to that point.

Rollins made up for his gaffe with a tying double in the fourth - but got cut down at third for the third out.

A ground-rule double by Michael Young set up the Phillies in the fifth and made him 10 for 17 (.588) off Matsuzaka, who forced in the go-ahead run by hitting John Mayberry Jr. with a pitch.

That was it for Matsuzaka, charged with four runs, four walks and six hits in his second major league start of the season.

''He's definitely deliberate, but like I said, you have to adapt and adjust to his pace of play because ultimately he controls it,'' Mayberry said.

The former Red Sox star was pitching in Cleveland's farm system before he was granted his release last week. The Mets signed him to fill a hole in their injury-depleted rotation the rest of the way.

''My last few starts in Triple-A, I had very good command of my pitches and it's actually been a while since I didn't,'' Matsuzaka said. ''I wasn't able to command the pitches very well today. I don't think it has anything to do with whether it's Triple-A or the big leagues.''

Ruiz hit a solo homer off Carson in the sixth.

Andrew Brown had an RBI double for the Mets in the seventh.

NOTES: Mets rookie Wilmer Flores made his first major league start at 2B, his position for most of this season at Triple-A Las Vegas. Flores has been filling in at 3B for injured David Wright. Josh Satin started at 3B. ... Collins said CF Matt den Dekker will get his first big league start Thursday. ... Matsuzaka singled for his third career hit and first since June 24, 2010, with Boston. ... RHP Carlos Torres pitches in place of injured Mets ace Matt Harvey in the series finale Thursday. RHP Ethan Martin gets the ball for Philadelphia. ... All-Star OF Domonic Brown sat out again with a sore right heel. He hasn't started since being lifted Saturday, but Sandberg said Brown is getting close.

Tagged: Mets, Phillies, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Eric Young, John Mayberry, Domonic Brown, Pirates, Michael Young, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, Carlos Ruiz

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