Phillies 6, Mets 5
Raul Ibanez confesses that he searched everywhere to rediscover his hitting stroke. The answer may have been floating in front of his face.
Ibanez sparked a five-run third inning with a three-run homer off knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, and the Philadelphia Phillies pounded out a dozen hits to support Roy Halladay in a 6-5 victory over the New York Mets on Sunday.
''There's a lot of stuff that you do, and the harder you look, the less you find,'' said Ibanez, who is riding a 16-game hitting streak. ''You have to back off and trust everything you've done. Less is more. The most important thing is to relax through the swing.''
Halladay (14-8) struggled on an 88-degree afternoon - at least by his standards - allowing five runs on nine hits in seven innings. Phillies closer Brad Lidge worked around a leadoff single by Josh Thole for his 14th save in 18 opportunities.
Halladay had allowed one run of fewer in five of his six outings, posting a 1.50 ERA during that span. He retired 12 of 13 batters following a first-inning single by Ike Davis, before Jose Reyes began the sixth with a double and scored on Angel Pagan's single.
New York made the score 6-5 in the seventh on an RBI groundout by rookie Ruben Tejada and pinch double by Chris Carter, but Halladay navigated through the inning with the lead. The Philadelphia bullpen shut down the Mets.
''I'm happy with the win,'' said Halladay, who has won four straight starts. ''Obviously, it's about winning games. Even in the seventh, I felt like I made two good pitches to start the inning. I ended up making pitches after that that cost me. The bullpen picked me up. It's a little easier getting to sleep at night taking a win out of it.''
Dickey (7-5) failed to go at least five innings for the first time in 16 starts. He allowed six runs - four earned - in three innings.
Carlos Beltran struck out three times and has just two hits in his last 20 at-bats, and manager Jerry Manuel suggested afterward that he may give his center fielder a day off.
New York struck out 11 times each on Saturday and Sunday.
The Mets came out aggressive against Halladay. Reyes began the game with a slicing line drive and stretched it into a double against right-fielder Ben Francisco. Reyes then perfectly read Pagan's floater over second base, and raced around to score the game's first run.
Pagan would then steal second and third, and scored on an infield hit by Davis.
Werth homered in the second inning before Philadelphia scored five times in the third inning. Gload's single brought in Jimmy Rollins, and Ibanez followed with his three-run shot. Schneider added an RBI single later in the inning.
With the lead, Halladay returned more to his normal self.
''He started pounding the strike zone,'' said David Wright, who struck out three times against Halladay. ''Then when we had guys on (in the seventh), he bared down and got it done. You figure when you get to him like that, you have a chance.''
Like Ibanez, the Phillies have been rolling. Despite losing three starters - first baseman Ryan Howard, second baseman Chase Utley and center fielder Shane Victorino - the Phillies have won 14 of 17 games, charging from seven games back of NL East-leading Atlanta to within two games.
''Character is the key,'' Ibanez said. ''This team has a mentality that I haven't seen on other teams. It's a light-enough clubhouse where a lot isn't said, and nobody presses to do more. You just try and contribute in any way that you can. We have a lot of guys doing that.''
Notes: Victorino (left abdominal strain) will begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. ... Ibanez is hitting .407 during his hitting streak. ... The Phillies optioned OF John Mayberry after Sunday's game. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said the team will make a corresponding move on Tuesday. ... Howard (sprained left ankle) is walking without crutches but still limping. He hopes to rejoin the team Aug. 17, the first day he's eligible to play.