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.

Jayson Werth had three hits, including a solo homer, and Brian
Schneider and Ross Gload also drove in runs for Philadelphia, which
has won six of its last seven.

”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.