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Phillies Host Mets For Weekend Series At Citizens Bank Park

(Sports Network) - The Philadelphia Phillies are closing in on their fourth consecutive National League East title. The New York Mets would love nothing more than to spoil their party.

Tonight, Philadelphia will try to reduce its magic number even further when it opens a three-game series against its bitter rivals at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies come into tonight's tilt as one of the hottest teams in baseball after winning their last 10 games and sweeping the Atlanta Braves to up their lead in the East to six, while lowering their magic number to four for clinching the division.

"I think the faster that we can get it done, the better off we can be," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of clinching the division. "We can rest some of our players and get some players off the bench into the game. We can set our team up. We can't do it right yet."

The Phillies' train continued to roll on Wednesday when Raul Ibanez came through with a two-out RBI double in the eighth inning, lifting Philadelphia to a 1-0 victory.

Ibanez drove in the game-winning run for the second straight game after hitting a two-out, two-run double in Tuesday's 5-3 victory. Carlos Ruiz added two hits in the victory, Philadelphia's 18th in 21 September games.

Philadelphia is now a major league-best 69-35 in the season's full final month since 2007.

Roy Oswalt was masterful on the mound, allowing one hit and a walk in seven shutout innings. He struck out eight. Ryan Madson (6-2) earned the win with a perfect eighth, and Brad Lidge notched his 26th save with a scoreless ninth.

It was the Phillies' first one-hitter in Citizens Bank Park's history.

Hoping to duplicate that performance tonight will be right-hander Joe Blanton, who is 7-6 with a 5.04 ERA, but has lost just one time since the All-Star break. He did not get a decision on Sunday against Washington, but was not effective, as he allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings of his team's 7-6 win.

Blanton has faced the Mets six times and is 2-1 in those outings with a 2.66 ERA.

New York, meanwhile, will counter with surprising knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who is 11-7 with a 2.92 ERA. Dickey was charged with the loss on Sunday against Atlanta, which reached him for four runs and 10 hits in six innings.

Dickey tossed a one-hit shutout to beat the Phils back on August 13 and is 2-1 against them this season with a 2.00 ERA.

The Mets enter tonight's tilt riding a five-game losing streak after getting swept in a three-game set by the Florida Marlins to drop their miserable record away from home to 30-48.

One player, though, who seems to be coming to life is outfielder Carlos Beltran, who was 3-for-5 in Wednesday's loss with a home run. He is 10 for his last 29 and has raised his average to .246 after hitting a mere .211 as recently as September 3.

"He's swinging the bat well," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "I think Carlos is probably getting ready to have a big year next year. I see some improvements."

The Phillies have won eight of the 15 meetings between the teams this season.