Phillies-Mets Preview

AP - Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies have had a winning record once this year. They've had the best mark in baseball after the All-Star break over the past six.

The Phillies look to begin another strong second half when they open a pivotal nine-game road trip against the New York Mets on Friday night.

The Phillies (48-48) have won eight of 11 and are looking to move above .500 for the only time this season other than June 6, when they were 31-30.

They're 6 1/2 games behind NL East-leading Atlanta, while Washington is six back.

"What's meaningful is we're not out of the race," shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. "No matter how good you are, you're going to lose 50 games and you're going to win 50 games. It's those 62 that really make the difference. It's going to come down to the last weekend like it has the last couple of years."

That seems very possible given Philadelphia's 314-198 record after the All-Star break since the start of 2007.

Duplicating that success on this trip could be a factor in whether the Phillies are buyers or sellers at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. After facing the Mets (41-50) for three games, Philadelphia visits division leaders St. Louis and Detroit.

"They're going to make decisions based on where we are in the standings," Rollins said. "So if we come out in the second half and start out hot, then they're going to make a decision according to that."

Visiting Citi Field may be just what Philadelphia needs, as it's won six in a row there with a 1.50 ERA.

Kyle Kendrick (8-6, 3.68 ERA) has enjoyed his own success in Flushing, going 3-1 with a 1.30 ERA in four starts. The right-hander's latest performance there may have been the best of his career, as he tossed a three-hitter in a 4-0 win April 26 to beat the Mets for a third straight start overall.

He has a 1.59 ERA during that winning streak.

Kendrick, though, has gone 1-3 with a 6.44 ERA in his last five road starts.

The Mets, who hosted Tuesday's All-Star game, concluded the first half with a 6-3 trip, but they have a losing record at the break for the first time since 2009.

"We're disappointed," manager Terry Collins told the team's official website. "We're not happy with where we're sitting. We got off to such a good start. We've had ups and downs."

While All-Star Matt Harvey provides hope for the future of the rotation, Jeremy Hefner (4-6, 3.33) has been the Mets' best starter over the past four weeks.

The right-hander has gone 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA over his last six outings, five ending in New York victories. That stretch includes a 4-3 win at Philadelphia on June 21 in which Hefner allowed three runs - two earned - with six strikeouts in six innings.

Despite that performance, he's 2-2 with an 11.02 ERA in five games - four starts - versus the Phillies.

Hefner has struggled against Domonic Brown, one of the Phillies' two All-Stars. The left fielder is 4 for 4 with a double and a home run off Hefner.

David Wright, the Mets' other All-Star, is 10 for 25 with two home runs and two doubles against Kendrick over the past four seasons.

The third baseman has batted .412 in his last 17 home games.

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