Delgado’s big hit puts Mets alone in first place
NEW YORK (AP)—Jerry Manuel was curious to see how his New York Mets would respond after a heartbreaking loss to Philadelphia.
They answered with two big wins.
Carlos Delgado hit a tiebreaking, two-run double in the eighth inning and Oliver Perez stifled the Phillies again, helping the Mets earn a 3-1 victory Thursday that gave them sole possession of first place in the NL East.
The Mets took two of three in the series after blowing a three-run lead in the ninth inning of the opener, putting them alone in first place for the first time since April 19.
“I’m very proud of the way this team bounced back after that game the other night,” said Manuel, who has managed New York to a 21-12 record since Willie Randolph was fired last month. “We’ve been resilient for a long period of time.”
Eric Bruntlett, subbing for a tardy Jimmy Rollins, tied a season high with three hits for the Phillies, who rallied for an 8-6 win Tuesday night but struggled to score after that. Philadelphia has lost four of five and will host Atlanta in the opener of a three-game series Friday night.
“Something’s not in tune,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “We have to pick it up. I don’t know if it’s hungry enough. I haven’t put my finger on it, but we have to get after it more. We don’t now have that extra kick, the kick we used to have.”
Manuel scratched Rollins after the NL MVP showed up late to the ballpark. He batted for J.C. Romero (4-3) and bounced into a fielder’s choice to end the game.
“That’s one of our rules: Hustle and be on time,” the manager said. “That’s all I want to say about Jimmy. We’ve got other things here.”
Rollins, yanked from the Phillies’ 5-0 win over Cincinnati on June 5 for failing to run hard on a popup that was dropped, said he got caught in traffic.
“We’re not going to agree on this one,” said Rollins, who met with Manuel before the game. “I agreed with him on the last one but we’re not going to agree on this one. Charlie’s the manager. He doesn’t want to set precedents for certain players. I understand that. It’s already done. Me and Charlie spoke about it. It’s done.”
New York got another dominant outing from Perez, who had a season-high 12 strikeouts and allowed one run in 7 2-3 innings. The left-hander is 1-0 with a 0.35 ERA in 26 innings against Philadelphia this year and has a 1.35 ERA over his last four starts overall.
“Just trying to make pitches and the more important (thing), I always say, trying to (keep) my team in the game,” Perez said.
Delgado hit a two-strike pitch from Romero into the left-field corner in the eighth to drive in Robinson Cancel and David Wright, who was intentionally walked before the big first baseman came to the plate with two outs.
Left-handed hitters were 5-for-68 (.074) against Romero this season before Delgado’s clutch hit, which made the slugger 3-for-18 lifetime against the Phillies’ reliever. He is batting .397 with five homers and 16 RBIs in July after slumping for much of the year.
“I’m not doing anything different,” Delgado said. “I got my timing back.”
Aaron Heilman (1-3) replaced Perez and got Jayson Werth to fly out with the bases loaded to end the eighth. Billy Wagner, who missed the series opener with a sore left shoulder, got three outs for his second save in two days and 26th of the season.
New York improved to 9-4 against the Phillies this year after going 6-12 against them last season and losing the final eight meetings. That head-to-head dominance helped Philadelphia rally past the collapsing Mets to win the 2007 NL East title.
Perez fired a called strike past Bruntlett at 12:10 p.m. in the unusual early start. Sections of summer-camp kids provided streaks of color in the upper deck of Shea Stadium, and construction workers at new Citi Field watched a few innings from beyond the center-field wall.
The kids and workers in hard hats were treated to terrific pitching performances by the 26-year-old Perez and 45-year-old Jamie Moyer.
Perez ran his scoreless streak against Philadelphia to 24 1-3 innings before Werth led off the seventh with a mammoth drive to center that hit the top tier of a camera tower. His 13th homer of the season tied it at 1 and was just the fourth earned run allowed by Perez in his last four starts.
Moyer retired eight of his first nine batters before running into trouble in the third, hurt by an uncharacteristic lapse in control. Jose Reyes walked with two outs and stole second. Moyer then walked rookie Nick Evans, and Wright lined his next pitch into left for an RBI single.
Moyer allowed one run and two hits in seven innings. He struck out six and walked three.
The Mets are expected to promote RHP Brandon Knight from Triple-A New Orleans to start against St. Louis on Saturday. Knight isn’t expected to be with the club very long and should be able to compete for the U.S. in the Beijing Olympics. … New York OF Angel Pagan is slated to have season-ending surgery Tuesday on his left (non-throwing) shoulder. … Moyer entered with just 34 walks in 120 innings this season. … Jerry Manuel isn’t sure when RHP Pedro Martinez will rejoin the team. Martinez was traveling to the Dominican Republic after the death of his father. … Ryan Howard needs one more homer to become the third Phillies player to hit 30 or more in three consecutive seasons. Hall of Famers Chuck Klein and Mike Schmidt are the other two sluggers.