Rollins benched after blunders, Phils beat Mets

A little popup caused a lot of trouble for the New York Mets –

and didn’t work out so well for the Philadelphia Phillies,

either.

Pitcher Jonathon Niese dropped a routine pop that forced

Phillies star Jimmy Rollins to shift from a jog to a sprint toward

first base.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel benched Rollins because of the

missing hustle, a move that overshadowed Philadelphia’s 3-2 win

over the Mets on Thursday.

”It’s got to be somebody’s ball,” Mets manager Terry Collins

said. ”There’s got to be somebody taking charge. Nobody was

policing it.”

The confusion didn’t cost the Mets any runs, thanks to a pair of

baserunning blunders by Rollins in the sixth inning. He was pulled

for the start of the seventh inning after his mistakes.

The former NL MVP failed to run hard on a dropped popup that

could have put him on second base. He stole second base, then was

caught in a rundown on a grounder and was tagged out.

Rollins drew the ire of Phillies fans earlier this month when he

jogged down the line on a grounder in a game at Miami. He met

privately with Manuel the next day. Manuel refused to bench his

All-Star shortstop then. He had no hesitation against the Mets.

Kyle Kendrick (8-9) allowed solo homers in the first two innings

to Mike Baxter and Scott Hairston, but did not permit another run

before leaving with two outs in the eighth.

Jonathan Papelbon tossed a scoreless ninth for his 30th save as

the Phillies avoided a three-game sweep.

Kendrick retired 13 straight starting in the fourth inning and

won his fourth straight start. Kendrick has more wins than Cliff

Lee (3) and as many as Roy Halladay (8). Kendrick struck out six

and walked none.

Kendrick left to a standing ovation with runners on first and

second in the eighth.

Raul Valdes needed one pitch to retire Ike Davis on a

grounder.

Rollins got fans talking after his latest baserunning gaffes. He

popped up and appeared to be making a turn toward the dugout until

Niese dropped the ball for an error and Rollins dashed to

first.

With Kendrick on third and Rollins on second, Kevin Frandsen hit

a grounder to second. Rollins took off for third with Kendrick

staying on the base and was tagged out.

It was the latest blunder in a disappointing season for the

Phillies. Rollins has been chewed out and benched by Manuel in the

past for not hustling. When he did it twice in one inning, Manuel

saw enough and yanked him.

The Phillies are far removed from the franchise that won the

last five NL East titles. Their lineup against Niese (10-8) seemed

more appropriate for spring training. Ty Wigginton in left and

Michael Martinez in right were the starting corner outfielders.

Catcher Steven Lerud made his major league debut and Frandsen

started at third.

Niese, who had the flu earlier this week, gave up three runs and

nine hits in six innings.

”I just didn’t feel like I had much energy but I battled

through it,” he said.

The Mets snapped a four-game winning streak. The finished 7-2 at

Citizens Bank Park and won three series of at least three games

this season in Philadelphia.

”We’re going in a positive direction,” Niese said.

Baxter connected on the second pitch of the game for his first

career leadoff homer. Hairston hit a solo shot, his 15th, in the

second.

Frandsen had an RBI single in the third and Wigginton tied it

with a double in the fourth. Ryan Howard’s sacrifice fly in the

fifth put the Phillies up 3-2.

NOTES: Phillies INF Hector Luna was outrighted off the 40-man

roster and elected free agency. The Phillies are now at 39 players

on the 40-man roster. … Baxter hit the third leadoff homer for

the Mets this season. … Mets relievers have pitched 16 1-3

scoreless innings.