While the Philadelphia Phillies remain all but certain to miss the playoffs for the first time in six seasons, their recent play has left them with a small glimmer of hope.
Philadelphia tries to win five in a row for the first time in more than three months Tuesday night when it opens a three-game set against the visiting New York Mets .
Despite sitting 16 1/2 games behind NL East-leading Washington and a ways back in the wild-card standings, the reigning five-time division champions don't appear ready to give up on their season just yet.
The Phillies find themselves in the midst of one of their better stretches of the season, winning seven of nine - including a three-game sweep of the Nationals over the weekend.
"Crazier things have happened," Cliff Lee said after throwing seven strong innings during Sunday's 4-1 victory. "All we can do is try to win each day. For the most part, we underperformed a majority of the first half. We've only recently started to play the way we should have. It's not a surprise to us."
Winner of 14 of 20 at home, Philadelphia now looks for its momentum to carry over versus New York (59-69). The Mets have taken eight of 12 in the series this year, going 5-1 at Citizens Bank Park.
New York is coming off back-to-back victories over major league-worst Houston, winning 2-1 on Sunday on Ike Davis ' solo home run in the bottom of the ninth.
Davis has picked up the pace of late, going 11 for 32 with four homers in his last 11 games, raising his average 10 points to .223.
"Obviously, I don't want to be a .220 hitter," he told the Mets' official website. "For having such a bad start - and possibly the worst I've ever been on a baseball field in my entire life - right now, I've really grinded it out. ... As long as I play well enough to get a job next year and keep playing baseball, that's what I'm excited about."
Davis is 1 for 7 versus Phillies scheduled starter Vance Worley (6-9, 4.06 ERA), who's gone 0-3 with a 6.41 ERA over his last four starts. The right-hander made it through six innings for the first time over that stretch Wednesday, yielding two runs and eight hits in a 3-2 loss to Cincinnati.
"I did get to six today, didn't I?" Worley told the Phillies' official website. "That felt good. It's just part of the game, I guess. I kept the team in it ... so I can say that I did my job."
Worley has compiled a 9.00 ERA and .429 opponent batting average in losing both matchups against New York this season. He'll face a Mets team, though, that's scored 15 runs in its last nine games.
Opposing Worley on the hill is Chris Young (3-7, 4.33), who retired the first 15 batters he faced last Tuesday against Colorado before coming undone during a 6-2 defeat. The right-hander gave up four runs - two earned - and five hits over seven innings.
Since joining New York in 2011, Young has gone 1-1 with a 1.86 ERA over three starts versus Philadelphia. He's limited Jimmy Rollins to two hits in 16 at-bats, but the Phillies shortstop is 6 for 12 with five RBIs during the four-game win streak.
|New York Mets|
|August 18, 2012||Johan Santana||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|August 15, 2012||Rob Johnson||15-Day DL||Torn ligament, left thumb|
|August 02, 2012||Tim Byrdak||15-Day DL||Sore left shoulder|
|July 31, 2012||Andres Torres||Day-to-Day||Strained right thumb|
|July 31, 2012||Jason Bay||Day-to-Day||Bruised left calf|
|July 21, 2012||Johan Santana||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
|August 24, 2012||Brian Schneider||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|August 13, 2012||Nate Schierholtz||15-Day DL||Fractured right big toe|
|August 03, 2012||Carlos Ruiz||15-Day DL||Plantar fasciitis, left foot|
|July 23, 2012||Placido Polanco||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|July 23, 2012||Placido Polanco||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|July 09, 2012||Raul Valdes||15-Day DL||Strained right hip|
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Kelly Shoppach is fitting in nicely with his new team.
Ike Davis hit a tiebreaking double during a four-run 10th inning, Shoppach had a two-run homer and the New York Mets beat the Philadelphia Phillies 9-5 Tuesday night for their third straight victory.
Shoppach hit a tying double in the eighth and then connected off B.J. Rosenberg (0-2) to finish a triple shy of the cycle. Mike Baxter also hit a two-run shot for the Mets, who are 6-1 in Philadelphia this season.
"I knew it when I hit it," Shoppach said of his second homer in 22 at-bats with New York. "Coming to a league where I don't have the luxury of having faced many of the pitchers, I can just look for something to hit."
The Mets acquired the backup catcher from Boston two weeks ago.
"He's handled the pitching staff very well," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "There's things he does behind the plate I like a lot. And you saw when he hits them, they go a long way."
It was the first time in 10 games New York scored more than three runs.
Ryan Howard hit a grand slam and Chase Utley had a solo shot for the Phillies, who had won four straight.
The Phillies probably aren't going to win their sixth straight NL East title, but they're clinging to extremely slim postseason hopes. They remained 10 games behind St. Louis in the race for the second wild-card spot. The Cardinals were 9 1/2 out at this point last year, but they rallied to earn a wild-card berth and went on to beat the Phillies and win the World Series.
"It wasn't a fun one," Rosenberg said. "For whatever reason, I didn't quite feel like myself. Everything was up. It's pretty simple, you make really bad pitches to good hitters and you're going to get in trouble. All I can do is try and bounce back."
Bobby Parnell (4-3) tossed two scoreless innings for the win.
Neither starting pitcher fared well. Vance Worley allowed four runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings to remain winless in his last five starts for the Phillies.
New York's Chris Young gave up five runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings.
"I had trouble finding my rhythm in the first inning," Young said. "I dug us a hole and the guys picked me up."
Utley ripped his ninth homer out to right to give the Phillies a 5-4 lead in the fifth, ending Young's night.
The Mets rallied in the eighth, an inning that's plagued Philadelphia all season. David Wright worked a leadoff walk against Josh Lindblom . Antonio Bastardo entered and retired the next two batters before allowing Shoppach's RBI double.
Helped by Young's control problems, the Phillies loaded the bases without a hit in the first. Jimmy Rollins walked, Kevin Frandsen was hit by a pitch and Utley walked after hitting a few deep fouls. That brought up Howard, who drove one out to deep right-center to extend his franchise record to 11 career slams.
But the Mets chipped away. Baxter connected in the fourth to get New York within a run on his second career homer.
They chased Worley and tied it in the fifth. Ruben Tejada led off with a ground-rule double. He advanced on Daniel Murphy 's single and scored on Wright's sacrifice fly that made it 4-all.
The Mets hit three straight singles on the first five pitches to start the game. Wright drove in Tejada on his grounder to left. Tejada was initially called out by plate umpire Mike Estabrook on a strong throw home by Domonic Brown , but Estabrook changed the call after realizing catcher Erik Kratz dropped the ball and picked it up barehanded.
The Mets won their first two series in Philadelphia this season, including a three-game sweep in May. A packed house usually greets the Mets and many blue-shirted fans make the trip down the New Jersey turnpike. But with these two teams likely going nowhere, that atmosphere was missing. The crowd of 41,227 was the smallest at Citizens Bank Park this season.
NOTES: Rollins hosted the Uganda Little League team. Rollins visited Uganda in January and helped train the local team for their participation in the Little League World Series. ... Hector Luna had Philadelphia's only other slam this year. ... Worley is 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in his last five starts. ... Murphy was 4 for 44 with no extra-base hits in that span coming in. He went 3 for 5. ... Tejada ended an 0-for-10 slump with his leadoff hit. ... Cole Hamels (14-6, 2.99 ERA) tries to win his fourth straight decision Wednesday night. Matt Harvey (2-3, 2.75) starts for the Mets.