The Phillies evened their series with the visiting Mets in an entertaining mess of a ballgame that featured eighteen walks (nine for each side), two hit batsmen, twelve pitchers used, and 24 men left on base. In other words, it was pretty much in line with what the last two seasons have led us to expect when these two teams hook up.
Neither pitching coach is likely to sleep very well tonight. With his job reportedly on the line, Mets starter Oliver Perez was unable to extend his 2008 mastery of the Phillies (four starts, 26 IP, 0.35 ERA, 27 K). Perez issued six walks to go with five hits in just 2.1 innings of work, departing after the last of his free passes--to Jamie Moyer to force in a run and give the Phillies a 4-2 lead. But 40 year-old rookie Ken Takahashi, making his major-league debut, extricated the Mets from further trouble by turning a Shane Victorino line drive into a 1-2-3 double play. Through four innings, the Phils stranded seven runners, including five in scoring position.
Meanwhile, Moyer mostly held the Mets in check despite the accordion-ish strike zone of home plate umpire Adrian Johnson. But as is often the case with the ancient lefty, when he lost it, he lost it fast: with two out and none on in the sixth inning, the bottom of the Mets' order--Daniel Murphy, Ramon Castro, and pinch-hitter Alex Cora--went homer, homer, triple, and Moyer departed having to wait at least one more start for career win #250. Scott Eyre imploded again, issuing one walk, one hit, and one HBP to give the Mets a 5-4 lead and load the bases before Clay Condrey induced a groundout from Gary Sheffield.
After the Phils pulled even in the bottom of the inning, when Raul Ibanez crushed a Pedro Feliciano offering for home run number eight on the year, the bullpen battle was joined. The Mets nearly went ahead in the 8th, when Carlos Beltran singled off Ryan Madson with two outs and a man on second. But Jayson Werth made a perfect throw to the plate to nail the runner and end the inning.
New York came close again in the 10th inning. With Madson and Brad Lidge used, Charlie Manuel turned to Jack Taschner, and Cora and Ryan Church singled around a Jose Reyes strikeout to put runners at first and third. Facing Beltran, the league's leading hitter, Taschner induced a 5-4-3 double play to escape. It was the Mets' last chance: Sean Green, New York's sixth pitcher of the day, loaded the bases on an infield single, a hit batsman, and a walk around two outs. Facing Shane Victorino with the Citizens Bank Park crowd roaring, Green worked the count full--and missed on a breaking pitch to walk Victorino and force in the winning run.
As noted above, a fairly typical Mets-Phils tilt. John Maine and Joe Blanton square off tomorrow in the series finale.