Phillies 7, Mets 2

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NEW YORK (AP)—Jim Thome and the Philadelphia Phillies altered their approach.

A night after Philadelphia went hitless for six innings, Thome and Mike Lieberthal capped a four-run first with back-to-back homers as the Phillies beat the New York Mets 7-2 Thursday night.

Montreal’s Tomo Okha held the Phillies without a hit Wednesday night until Placido Polanco led off the seventh with a single, and Philadelphia went on to a 2-0 win behind Kevin Millwood’s three-hitter.

“Maybe facing Ohka last night helped our offense,” Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. “When you get that many runs early it helps the pitcher relax.”

Vicente Padilla certainly seemed comfortable. He gave Philadelphia a second straight sharp outing by pitching into the ninth inning.

This time, Polanco set the tone in the first when he followed Marlon Byrd’s leadoff single with an RBI double off Steve Trachsel on the ninth pitch of his at-bat.

Thome then hit a 445-foot homer off the video board in left-center.

“I was looking for a ball inside to get the runner over,” Thome said, “but he left a changeup away so I just stayed with it.”

In a three-run second, shortstop Nick Punto hit his first major league home run for the Phillies, energetically rounding the bases like a novice.

“I didn’t really know what was going on. When I hit it I knew I hit it good,” Punto said. “I just wanted to get back to the dugout and be with my teammates.”

Second-place Philadelphia has won three straight and remains 8 1/2 games behind Atlanta in the NL East. The Mets have lost four in a row and are 20 games back in last place. The last time New York was this far out of first so early in the season was June 9, 1993, when they fell 20 1/2 back.

After giving up a run-scoring double to Ty Wigginton in the first, Padilla (8-8) didn’t allow two hits in an inning until Jose Reyes and pinch-hitter Jeff Duncan had successive infield singles with one out in the seventh.

Padilla allowed seven hits and won his fourth decision in five starts. He struck out one and walked two in his best performance since shutting out the Braves on April 19.

“When you go out there with a 4-0 lead early in the game it gives you a lot of confidence,” Padilla said through an interpreter.

The right-hander allowed a homer to Jason Phillips to start the ninth and was lifted. Carlos Silva got three outs to finish it.

For the second straight day, the Mets were in a deep hole before coming to bat. Tom Glavine allowed three of his first four batters to score against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday.

Trachsel (8-6) had been the Mets’ most consistent pitcher recently, winning four of five starts—including a one-hit shutout at Anaheim on June 15— before his shortest outing of the season. In 1 2-3 innings, he allowed eight hits, seven runs and two walks—one intentional.

“He just didn’t have it, let’s face it,” Mets manager Art Howe said. “Three home runs in two innings—that’s not Steve.”

After Byrd singled, Trachsel gave up an RBI double to Polanco. Thome followed with his 23rd homer, and Lieberthal hit his sixth of the season.

The Phillies added three runs in the second on Punto’s homer, consecutive doubles by Byrd and Polanco, and a bases-loaded walk to Pat Burrell, whichended Trachsel’s brief outing.

Notes

Move over bobblehead dolls, the Mets introduced the Mike Piazza Russian tea doll. The wooden doll has Piazza’s likeness painted on it. Russian tea dolls open to reveal a successively smaller version of itself. … Burrell was 3-for-27 in July before his fifth-inning single. … Mets left-hander Mike Stanton made his second rehabilitation appearance, allowing two hits in two innings for Class-A Brooklyn. He struck out one and walked none. … Mets fans derisively chanted “MVP!” each time Roger Cedeno batted. … Phillies 3B David Bell was replaced by Tomas Perez to start the third inning. Bell has hadtendinitis in his hip and has trouble swinging the bat. He is day to day.

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