Mets-Phillies Preview

The Associated Press

Now may be the time to take advantage of the Philadelphia Phillies as they scuffle offensively without injured stars Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.

Mike Pelfrey might be the most eager of beneficiaries to face this depleted lineup as the New York Mets try to complete a three-game sweep of their NL East rivals Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.

The Mets right-hander struggled against the Phillies in 2011, going 1-3 with a 7.71 ERA in six starts while allowing 44 hits in 28 innings. Howard went 5 for 13 with two homers against Pelfrey, while Utley was 4 for 9 with a pair of doubles.

Both sluggers also walked twice while continuing their career-long success versus Pelfrey. They are a combined 29 for 82 (.354) with seven homers and five doubles lifetime in the matchup.

Their absences from the lineup have been glaring thus far - the five-time reigning NL East champions have been held to 20 runs during their 3-5 start. Philadelphia has totaled two runs in dropping the first two games of this series, managing just six singles in Saturday's 5-0 loss.

The Phils are hitting .222 (12 for 54) with runners in scoring position and .243 overall, scoring more than four runs just once.

"We're eight games in, it doesn't faze me at all," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I hate to use the word 'early' because I come to the ballpark every day and I want to win, but there's no sense in panicking. We're going to score runs, we're going to compete, we're going to hold the fort until our guys get back."

On top of the offensive struggles, scheduled Phillies starter Cole Hamels has encountered problems against the Mets (6-2) for most of his career. The left-hander is 3-10 lifetime versus New York - his worst record against any team he's faced more than three times.

He went 1-2 with a 6.86 ERA in four starts against the Mets in 2011 and also has lost three consecutive home starts in the series since winning Sept. 11, 2009.

Hamels was uneven in his season debut Monday, striking out nine in 5 1-3 innings but also giving up four runs and eight hits in a 6-2 loss to Miami. After the game, he insisted the Phillies' offensive woes don't change his mindset heading into each start.

"I've kind of been doing that for four years, so, no, it's no different to me," Hamels told the team's official website. "That's why I have the same mindset no matter what we do. I have to go out there and try to bear down and pitch deep into the game."

David Wright will try to prevent that from happening, and he has a good track record against Hamels. The third baseman is 12 for 39 (.308) with three doubles, a triple and two homers lifetime versus the southpaw.

Wright is 10 for 17 this season, getting an RBI in each of his five games, and he hit his second homer Saturday despite missing the previous three contests with a broken pinkie.

"I felt good," Wright said. "I got a little confidence after the first at-bat. I felt real good in the cage earlier today. I wouldn't have gone out there if I didn't think I can contribute."

His 16 homers at Citizens Bank Park are the most by a visiting player.

Pelfrey, who has yielded nine homers in eight starts there, did not get a decision in his 2012 debut Monday against Washington, working in and out of trouble as he allowed three runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings while matching a career high with eight strikeouts before New York won 4-3.

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