PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The Philadelphia Phillies aren’t just running away with the NL East – they’re making a push to finish with the best record in the major leagues.
Coming off a sweep of their closest pursuers in the East, the Phillies go for their 11th win in a row and look to move closer to a fourth straight division crown Friday night against the visiting New York Mets.
Philadelphia (92-61) was tied with Atlanta atop the division after a loss Sept. 11, but had won nine of 12 and seemed to be hitting its stride.
After the past 11 days, that appears to be an understatement. Roy Oswalt helped the Phillies wrap up a three-game sweep of the Braves in a one-hit, 1-0 win Wednesday that boosted their lead to six and reduced their magic number in the East to four.
Philadelphia is also within striking distance of Minnesota and the New York Yankees for the majors’ top record, and has a shot at reaching 100 wins for the first time since 1977.
“We’ve been talking about winning 100 games and being the best team in baseball for years now,” outfielder Jayson Werth told the Phillies’ official website. “We pretty much have the same guys in here. We’re a good team. We want to be recognized. We feel like everybody out there over the past few years. We feel like we’re right there, if not better.”
Philadelphia hasn’t won 11 straight since Sept. 16-26, 1983, just weeks before it made it to the World Series.
Oswalt and Cole Hamels have keyed the Phillies’ 22-4 surge since Aug. 27, going a combined 9-0 with a 0.90 ERA, but Joe Blanton (7-6, 5.04 ERA) has been solid during that stretch as well.
The right-hander has gone 2-0 with a 3.77 ERA in his last five starts and struck out eight in each of his past two outings. Blanton was on the hook for a loss Sunday against Washington after allowing four runs over six innings, but the Phillies capped a four-run ninth with Werth’s walk-off homer in a 7-6 victory.
Blanton is 0-1 with a 5.11 ERA in two starts against the Mets this season, but 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA in six career matchups.
New York (74-78) dropped its fifth straight Wednesday, 7-5 at Florida, but should feel pretty good about its chances to snap its streak – and the Phillies’ – if R.A. Dickey (11-7, 2.92) pitches anything like he did Aug. 13. The right-hander threw a one-hitter while outpitching Hamels in a 1-0 victory at Citi Field.
Hamels’ sixth-inning single was the Phillies’ only offense.
Dickey threw six innings in an 8-0 home win over Philadelphia on May 25, but his lone visit to Citizens Bank Park didn’t go well. The right-hander was roughed up for six runs and eight hits – including homers by Werth and Raul Ibanez – over three innings of a 6-5 loss Aug. 8.
Dickey fell to 2-2 with a 4.67 ERA in September after allowing four runs over six innings in a 6-3 loss to Atlanta on Sunday.
Carlos Beltran continued his late-season surge Wednesday, going 3 for 5 and finishing a double short of the cycle. Batting .211 on Sept. 3, Beltran has hit .345 since to raise his average to a season-high .246.
“He’s swinging the bat well,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “I think Carlos is probably getting ready to have a big year next year. I see some improvements.”
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