Philadelphia (98-60) at New York (76-82)

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  • Game info: 2:10 pm EDT Sun Sep 25, 2011
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The Philadelphia Phillies own the best record in baseball, but they haven’t looked anything like the top team in the major leagues of late.

The Phillies try to avoid a record-setting ninth straight loss and their longest skid in more than 12 years when they face the New York Mets on Sunday.

Since clinching its fifth consecutive NL East title with a victory last Saturday, Philadelphia (98-60) has dropped eight straight, the latest two losses coming in Saturday’s doubleheader against New York (76-82).

The Phillies fell 2-1 in the opener of the twinbill, then blew an early three-run lead in the nightcap before Hunter Pence(notes) dropped a fly ball that led to four unearned runs and a 6-3 defeat.

Philadelphia is on the verge of becoming the first team in MLB history to lose nine in a row after clinching a playoff berth. The Phillies haven’t suffered nine consecutive defeats since an 11-game slide Sept. 4-14, 1999.

“I’m sitting there watching it. Don’t know what I can do about it,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “If you want to know the truth, our team’s out of sync, definitely out of focus, and we’re not playing.

“You guys see how we’re playing. The teams that we’re losing to, we stop and look at our record against them this year and everything. There ain’t too much going our way right now.”

The Phillies have scored a major league-worst 2.0 runs per game since Sept. 18, when the losing streak began.

“Of course, yeah, you lose eight in a row, people are going to panic,” outfielder Shane Victorino(notes) said. “But I’m not worried. We haven’t had our full lineup out there guys, relax. We haven’t had one through eight.”

Ryan Howard(notes) went 1 for 4 with an RBI on Saturday afternoon after missing six games with bursitis in his left ankle. Pence also returned following a three-game absence.

Roy Halladay(notes) (18-6, 2.41 ERA) has won all six starts with a 1.89 ERA against New York while with Philadelphia, and has limited the Mets to one run in two outings spanning 16 innings this season.

Halladay, though, wasn’t sharp in a 4-3 loss to St. Louis on Monday, yielding four runs and a season-high four walks in eight innings. He’ll try for a second time to become the first Phillie to win 40 games over a two-season span since Steve Carlton had 42 from 1979-80.

The right-hander, 5-0 with a 1.86 ERA over his last seven road outings, has limited third baseman David Wright(notes) to a .143 average (3 for 21) with 11 strikeouts.

The Mets send Mike Pelfrey(notes) (7-12, 4.58 ERA) to the mound as they go for their first sweep of Philadelphia since May 25-27, 2010.

“With what’s happened with us as of late, to beat that team, as good as they are, I don’t care who else is on the field, it’s big for us,” manager Terry Collins said. “We need the confidence that we can compete.”

Pelfrey doesn’t carry much momentum into this outing after allowing five runs and 10 hits over six innings of an 11-6 road defeat to the Cardinals on Tuesday.

The right-hander, one loss shy of a career high, is 1-2 with a 6.84 ERA in five starts against the Phillies this season. However, he has gone 5-3 with a 3.05 ERA in 10 career home matchups with Philadelphia.

Pelfrey hasn’t fared well versus Howard or Chase Utley(notes), who have gone 15 for 41 (.366) and 12 for 37 (.324), respectively, against him with a combined seven homers.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Halladay Tor vs. M. Pelfrey Min
19-6 Record 7-13
2.35 ERA 4.74
220 K 105
35 BB 65
1.04 WHIP 1.47

Scoreboard

Sunday, Sep 25