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.