Howard's homer backs Kendrick's shutout for Phillies

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Kyle Kendrick was due to bat third in the top of the ninth inning Friday night, but there was no activity in the Philadelphia Phillies' bullpen nor any pinch-hitters getting loose in the dugout.

This was Kendrick's gem to finish, and he did so with a flourish by needing just 10 pitches to induce three groundouts in the bottom of the ninth and complete the second shutout of his career in a 4-0 win over the New York Mets in front of 21,582 at Citi Field.

Kendrick recorded his first shutout last May 26 against the Cardinals. The complete game Friday was his third and his first since the shutout against St. Louis.

Kendrick allowed only three hits and one walk while striking out five in a tidy 107-pitch effort -- six pitches fewer than he threw in a six-inning stint against the Cardinals on Sunday.

"I threw a lot of pitches the last game," Kendrick said. "I wanted to be more efficient."

Just one Mets baserunner -- Ruben Tejada in the first inning -- got as far as second base against Kendrick, who retired 10 in a row from the first through the fourth and 10 in a row between the fifth and the eighth.

"I didn't feel different than any other start," Kendrick said. "Just got some outs."

In a rotation that features All-Stars Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, nobody has been getting outs as impressively as Kendrick, who improved to 2-1 and lowered his ERA to a team-best 2.41.

Halladay, Lee and Hamels are a combined 3-6 with a 4.47 ERA.

"He's had so much poise on the mound, going out there, executing his pitches, executing his game plan," said Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, whose three-run homer capped a rapid four-run sixth-inning outburst by the Phillies. "Giving us an opportunity to go out there and just score and try and win the game."

The two teams were locked in a pitchers' duel until the Phillies collected all their runs off Dillon Gee (1-4) in an 11-pitch span to start the sixth inning.

Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Michael Young all singled, with Young's single scoring Rollins, before Howard crushed Gee's 1-1 pitch to the deepest part of Citi Field.

"That was good -- put together four straight hits and then [Kendrick] shut it down," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

The homer was just the third of the season for Howard, who averaged 44 homers a season from 2006 through 2011 before missing much of last year recovering from a torn Achilles tendon.

"Shows he's still got it, doesn't he?" Manuel said with a grin. "Shows it's still in there. Maybe he needs to hit a few to convince himself."

Howard is still hitting a solid .282 with six doubles in 85 at-bats, though, which has him confident the homers are coming.

"Power stroke's always been there," Howard said. "Just can't control where the ball goes sometimes. Had some balls that have been mishit, a couple balls that could have gone out in Atlanta (from April 1-3)."

Young had three hits for the Phillies (10-14), who snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the fourth time in their last 12 games.

The Mets (10-11) lost for the third time in four games as they fell below .500 for the first time this year.

The shutout loss was the first of the season for the Mets, and it happened on an evening in which manager Terry Collins unveiled a new lineup that had normal No. 2 hitter Daniel Murphy batting third, normal No. 3 hitter David Wright batting fourth and normal No. 4 hitter Ike Davis hitting seventh.

Collins moved the hot-hitting Murphy (.333 with two homers and 13 RBI) and Wright (.301 with two homers and 17 RBI) down in hopes of getting the type of middle-of-the-order production that has been lacking with Davis (.169 with four homers and seven RBI) slumping.

But Murphy was 0-for-4 and Wright was 1-for-4 on Friday, and the two players made the final two outs of Kendrick's gem.

"When he missed, he didn't miss by much," Collins said. "It was a night where you've just got to say he pitched a great game and go get 'em tomorrow."

Gee allowed just one runner as far as second base before the Phillies' sixth-inning rally. He was charged with all four runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out four in six innings.

NOTES: There was a 14-minute delay in the bottom of the first when home plate umpire Brian O'Nora exited suddenly with flu-like symptoms. O'Nora ran into the Mets' clubhouse and didn't return. The rest of the game was played with a three-man umpiring crew, with first base umpire Adrian Johnson moving behind the plate. ... Murphy entered the game hitting .253 with one homer and 12 RBI in 181 career plate appearances as the No. 3 hitter. He hit just .207 in 58 at-bats out of the No. 3 spot last year with no homers, no RBI and 12 strikeouts. ... Right-handed pitcher Shawn Marcum will make his season debut -- and his Mets debut -- when he takes the mound for Saturday afternoon's game against the Phillies. Marcum has been out all season with nerve inflammation in his neck and shoulder. Collins said he hopes Marcum, whose rehab outings came in extended spring training games, can throw up to 90 pitches. ... Phillies centerfielder Ben Revere missed his second straight game due to a sore quad. Manuel said Revere could miss the entire weekend series against the Mets but that a trip to the disabled list for Revere was not under consideration. ... Phillies reliever Mike Adams is battling a tender hip. Adams appeared in 11 of the Phillies' first 22 games before he was held out of Thursday's 6-4 loss to the Pirates.
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