Mets first to strike as rivalry heats up

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Shawn Green scores the Mets' first run in the second game on a wild pitch by Cole Hamels, who covers the plate. Hamels took the loss.

Carlos Beltran lofted a fifth-inning fly to deep left last night and Phillies leftfielder Pat Burrell frantically waved his arms because he had lost the flight of the ball.

"I can't find it!" Burrell seemed to be screaming.

The ball landed in the seats for Beltran's second home run of the game, sparking a 5-2 win and completing a day-night doubleheader sweep for the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park.

New York, which scored a 6-5 win in the opener, is five games ahead of the injury-shredded Phillies. Worse for the Phils, the pitching matchups the next two days heavily favor the Mets, who will face a pitcher making his major-league debut today (J.A. Happ) on Fox, and one making his fourth career start tomorrow (Kyle Kendrick).

"It's what we have to deal with," manager Charlie Manuel said with a shrug after his team slipped into third place. ". . . It's not like we're panicking or anything."

Down by 5-1 in the ninth inning of the nightcap, the Phils used Chase Utley's RBI single off former Phillie Billy Wagner to get within 5-2, then put the tying run at the plate after Ryan Howard walked. But Wagner struck out Aaron Rowand and his old pal Burrell to complete the sweep.

Rookie J.D. Durbin, making his Phillies debut, struggled mightily in the opener. So did the Phils' young ace, Cole Hamels, in the nightcap. He allowed three runs but walked five while needing 110 pitches to get through five innings in front of a sellout Fireworks Night crowd of 45,165.

"I really couldn't get comfortable in the zone," Hamels said. "I was throwing all over the place. I'm used to throwing first-pitch strikes, and I wasn't able to do it. I think I put too much stress on getting a first-pitch strike instead of just letting it happen."

The rest of the series "isn't like life and death," Hamels said after the Phils were swept in a doubleheader for the first time since 2002. "If we lose the next two, we still have weeks and months [left]."

Beltran, who was robbed of a two-run, extra-base hit on a sensational running catch by rightfielder Michael Bourn in the sixth inning, had the 19th multi-homer game of his career. Beltran and Damion Easley (two-run homer) led an offense that supported righthander John Maine, an all-star candidate who pitched eight-plus innings, surrendering just four hits against the league's highest-scoring team. Maine struck out six and walked none.

In the opener, Durbin, a hard-throwing 25-year-old righthander, started with a flourish - a Carltonesque three consecutive strikeouts - but grew progressively worse as he allowed six runs in 42/3 innings.

Now with his fourth major-league organization since spring training, Durbin didn't help his cause by being slow to cover home plate on a fourth-inning wild pitch that caromed off catcher Rod Barajas. The ball went about 15 feet up the first-base side and a run scored.

"When I first saw it, I didn't think it would get away that far, but you can't assume," he said. Ex-Phillie Ricky Ledee scored on the play, and the run turned out to be critical.

Earlier in the inning, Barajas failed to hold leftfielder Greg Dobbs' throw, enabling Ramon Castro to score on Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez's single to make it 5-1.

Hernandez, who became incensed when Manuel asked the umpires to search his cap for a foreign substance before he had thrown a pitch, baffled the Phils with off-speed stuff that rarely reached 70 m.p.h. The 37-year-old righthander allowed two runs - homers by Rowand and pinch-hitter Chris Coste - in six innings, during which he allowed only three hits while striking out seven and walking two.

Guillermo Mota replaced Hernandez to start the seventh, and the Phillies quickly responded. They used Dobbs' single and Wes Helms' homer to make it 6-4.

In the eighth, Burrell's pinch-hit RBI single off righthander Aaron Heilman made it 6-5.


See a slide show from the game at http://go.philly.com/photos.


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181 or scarchidi@phillynews.com.