NEW YORK (AP) — The surging Philadelphia Phillies have totaled seven runs in six games at Citi Field this season, but they should feel quite confident in their chances to win this visit.
Roy Halladay has won all three of his starts against the New York Mets this year and hasn’t allowed a run in two of them, a string of dominance the Phillies ace hopes to continue Friday night in the opener of a three-game set.
Philadelphia (81-60) didn’t score during a trip to New York in late May and was held to one hit in a 1-0 loss at Citi Field on Aug. 13 before rallying to win the final two games of that series.
The first came with Halladay (17-10, 2.36 ERA) on the hill. The former Cy Young Award winner held the Mets to four hits over eight innings in a 4-0 victory, improving to 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA against New York (69-71) this season.
The right-hander has been just average by his standards in his three most recent outings, posting a 4.29 ERA. He served up four home runs to Milwaukee on Saturday but snapped a two-game losing streak, going seven innings in a 5-4 win.
Halladay had allowed only three homers in his previous five starts and 17 this year in 214 innings.
“I really wasn’t happy with the mistakes, but to come out of a game like that with a win, as a pitcher, it’s a great feeling,” Halladay told the Phillies’ official website. “You come in a little more upbeat tomorrow and come right back at them.”
He’s facing a New York lineup which had only one homer in three games at last-place Washington this week, getting held to 10 runs.
One of the few Mets hitters to give him trouble is Jose Reyes, who is expected to return from the disabled list (oblique strain). Reyes is 7 for 15 with four extra-base hits against Halladay.
Philadelphia, though, couldn’t be feeling much more upbeat about its chances of defending its back-to-back NL pennants. The Phillies are in first place after three straight wins over Florida, wrapping up the four-game set with a season-high 18 hits in a 10-6 win Wednesday.
Ryan Howard had six RBIs and three hits, including his second homer in as many nights and fifth in 10 games.
Even with an 11th win in 14 games, Philadelphia’s attention was focused on Atlanta in what’s shaping up to be the closest division race in baseball.
“Atlanta isn’t going anywhere,” starter Joe Blanton said. “They’re going to keep playing hard like they have all year. We’ve got to keep playing our A game.”
The Mets are returning from a 4-6 road trip, but they won three of four to end it and are coming off Wednesday’s 3-2 victory over the Nationals.
Rookie Jenrry Mejia (0-3, 3.86) will try to keep up with Halladay as he seeks his first win. Mejia had a 3.25 ERA in 30 relief appearances before his first major league start Saturday at Chicago, where he gave up four runs over five innings in a 5-3 loss.
Rookie catcher Mike Nickeas, who caught Mejia in the minors, saw plenty of potential.
“His confidence is high,” Nickeas said. “What I saw in the minor leagues was a guy that didn’t fear anybody. When he gets that feeling here, he’s going to be terrific.”
Mejia has pitched two scoreless innings against the Phillies.
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