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Preview: Phillies Take On Mets At Citi Field

(Sports Network) – The Philadelphia Phillies got their three-game series against the rival New York Mets off to a good start and will shoot for a fifth straight win this afternoon from Citi Field.

Philadelphia remained one game ahead of Atlanta for the National League East lead and posted an 8-4 win Friday night behind 7 2/3 solid innings from staff ace Roy Halladay. The right-hander did allow four runs and eight hits with five strikeouts, and benefited from a pair of home runs by Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Halladay even knocked in a pair of runs, while Carlos Ruiz collected three hits and an RBI for the Phillies, who have won 12 of their last 15 games.

“It’s big,” Halladay said of his hit during a four-run fourth inning. “It seems like especially in this league, two outs, you get something going and the pitcher always comes up. To be able to kind of keep it going is nice.”

Halladay became the first Phillie to win 18 games since John Denny in 1983, while Howard kept up his solid pace by homering in his third straight game. Philadelphia entered the series having scored just seven runs in six games at Citi Field this season, and remained a game ahead of the Braves after they beat St. Louis Friday night.

Phils shortstop Jimmy Rollins missed the game with a hamstring injury and could return Sunday.

Scheduled to face the Mets today is Kyle Kendrick, who’s lost four of his previous six starts. In Sunday’s 6-2 setback versus Milwaukee, Kendrick lasted just four frames and allowed five runs and seven hits.

Kendrick dropped to 9-8 in 29 games (27 starts) this season for the Phillies to go along with a 4.89 ERA. The righty defeated the Mets in mid-August and is 3-2 with a 3.00 earned run average in seven career starts against the Mets.

Mets young pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia was tagged for nine hits and six runs in just four innings of his second career start last night. He is 0-4 this season.

“What I noticed tonight was they started laying off his breaking balls.” said New York catcher Josh Thole of Philadelphia’s offensive approach. “It kind of put us in spots where we were trying to throw breaking balls early in counts and it was putting us behind a little bit. When you do that against a lineup like that, it makes it even more difficult to pitch.”

Carlos Beltran gave the Mets a short-lived lead in the third inning with a two-run homer and Thole ended with three hits for the Mets, who had won two straight and three of four games.

New York is hoping Mike Pelfrey can get his act together when he takes the ball this afternoon. Pelfrey has lost two straight and three of five starts, including Monday’s 13-3 blowout loss at Washington.

Pelfrey was pounded by the Nationals for six runs in 3 2/3 innings, falling to 13-9 in 29 games (28 starts) this season with a 3.96 ERA. Pelfrey, who opened the 2010 campaign with such promise, seems to have lost his groove. Pelfrey is 8-3 in 15 home starts, but lost to Philadelphia on August 15 at Citi Field even though he tossed seven innings of three-run ball.

The right-hander is 5-4 with a 4.73 ERA in 12 career starts against the Phils.

Philadelphia took a 7-6 lead in the season series with Friday’s win and have won four of the last five meetings between the clubs.