Starter Kyle Kendrick was warming up in extra innings of a game that put the Philadelphia Phillies into first place. He never pitched, but it’s unlikely he would have fared any worse than New York Mets relievers have.
Kendrick will now take the mound for the Phillies after a key victory, matching up with Mets ace Johan Santana when the teams complete a two-game set Wednesday night with the NL East lead on the line again.
Philadelphia (73-59) moved one-half game ahead of New York (73-60) after overcoming a 7-0 deficit to beat the Mets 8-7 in 13 innings Tuesday night.
The Phillies, who have won five straight, were apparently ready to hand the ball to Kendrick (11-7, 4.87 ERA) with the game dragging on, but they didn’t have to resort to using Wednesday’s starter after taking advantage of the Mets’ beleaguered bullpen.
New York’s Luis Ayala gave up the game-tying run, marking the 10th time the Mets have blown a save in the ninth inning, and Scott Schoeneweis loaded the bases in the 13th before Chris Coste hit an RBI single to give Philadelphia the win. The Mets’ bullpen, currently with closer Billy Wagner (forearm) on the 15-day disabled list, has a 5.64 ERA since the All-Star break and has 22 blown saves overall.
“People are going to have to get people out,” New York manager Jerry Manuel said. “We’ll keep doing it until we find the right way.”
The Mets hope Santana (12-7, 2.64) will make any relief work unnecessary as they try to regain first place. He has won three straight starts, and hasn’t allowed a run in his last two.
Santana allowed eight hits in seven innings versus Houston on Friday night, throwing a career-high 121 pitches as New York won 3-0.
The left-hander is 1-0 with a 2.60 ERA in four career starts against the Phillies.
Kendrick, meanwhile, is 1-1 with a 2.40 ERA in three career starts against the Mets, getting four runs to work with.
The right-hander earned a win against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his last start, allowing one run and three hits in 5 2-3 innings as Philadelphia won 8-1 on Friday night. He lost his previous two starts, giving up 13 runs in seven innings.
Kendrick will be facing a Mets lineup that has scored 16 runs in its last two games. Fernando Tatis hit a three-run homer to lead New York on Tuesday, and is batting .471 (8-for-17) with two homers and six RBIs in seven games versus the Phillies this season.
But Ramon Castro, who leads Mets catchers with seven home runs, left with a right quadriceps strain in the fifth inning. His status for Wednesday’s game is uncertain.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, has averaged 7.0 runs over its last five contests.
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins sparked the Phillies in the series opener, going 5-for-7 with three RBIs in the leadoff spot. He also had three of Philadelphia’s season-high six steals.
Rollins, though, is hitless in 11 at-bats against Santana.