Joe Blanton threw seven strong innings, Carlos Ruiz hit a tie-breaking RBI single and the NL East-leading Philadelphia Phillies won their 11th straight game, 3-2 over the Mets on Friday night.
The Phillies’ victory coupled with Atlanta’s 8-3 loss at Washington reduced their magic number for clinching their fourth consecutive division title to two with eight games remaining. The winning streak is Philadelphia’s longest since a 13-game stretch in 1991.
Blanton (8-6) allowed two runs and six hits, striking out six. Ryan Madson worked a perfect eighth, and Lidge finished for his 27th save in 32 chances and fourth in four games.
Lidge allowed a one-out double to Ike Davis. He retired Angel Pagan on a fly out to deep left-center and walked Josh Thole before pinch-hitter Jesus Feliciano struck out to leave the tying run at third. Feliciano bounced out to Lidge two pitches earlier, but the play was waved off because Mets manager Jerry Manuel called a timeout to insert Luis Castillo as a pinch-runner for Thole.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel argued with first-base umpire Jerry Layne to chants of “Charlie! Charlie!” from the sellout crowd, but wasn’t ejected.
“I think that was terrible,” Charlie Manuel said. “He’s in the process of throwing the ball and they’re over there screaming, ‘Timeout.”‘
Lidge hopes managers don’t resort to doing this to break a pitcher’s concentration the way NFL coaches call timeouts right before the snap when a kicker lines up for an important field goal.
“It’s a little ridiculous, but you have to stay focused,” Lidge said. “Hopefully that won’t be a trend.”
Meanwhile, the Mets were still angry over Chase Utley’s hard takeout slide into second baseman Ruben Tejada in the fifth.
“It was a little late,” Jerry Manuel said. “You’ve got to be ready to respond. We’ll take care of it. We’ll slide hard, do stuff like that.”
Shane Victorino homered on knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s second pitch, and had an RBI double.
Dickey (11-8) gave up three runs — two earned — and eight hits in six innings. He tossed a one-hitter in a 1-0 victory over the Phillies on Aug. 13, allowing just a single to pitcher Cole Hamels.
The two-time NL champions are 45-15 since July 21, when they trailed Atlanta by seven games. They are 19-3 in September.
Pagan hit a two-run homer for the Mets.
While Philadelphia’s three aces — Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Hamels — get most of the attention, Blanton is proving he deserves a postseason start. Blanton is 5-0 with a 3.54 ERA in 12 starts since his last loss on July 21.
“I’m here to win another ring,” Blanton said. “That’s more important to me than anything.”
The right-hander made an outstanding defensive play to rob Pagan of a bunt single leading off the seventh. Blanton hustled after the ball pushed toward the first-base side, and shoveled it with his glove while falling down to retire the speedy Pagan.
“I had a half-percent chance to make that play,” Blanton said. “I got lucky.”
The Phillies went up 3-2 in the fourth after Pagan drove one out to right with two outs in the top half to tie it up at 2.
Raul Ibanez singled, advanced to second on catcher Thole’s passed ball and scored on Ruiz’s single to right.
Victorino hit his first career leadoff homer and 18th of the season to put the Phillies up 1-0. He lined an RBI double to left to make it 2-0 in the second. The switch-hitter batted right to combat the floating knucklers.
“I’m naturally right-handed,” he said. “I trust myself better right-handed when the ball moves a lot like that.”
Blanton got defensive help in the fifth. After David Wright lined a two-out double, Davis hit a shallow fly to left and Ibanez made a sliding catch to save a run.
Notes: The Philadelphia chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America announced that Ryan Howard won the Mike Schmidt Award for most valuable player, Halladay got the Steve Carlton Award for most valuable pitcher and the Dallas Green Award for special achievement, and Victorino earned the Tug McGraw Good Guy Award. … A crowd of 45,309 was the 121st straight sellout at Citizens Bank Park. … Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins, out since Sept. 8 with a hamstring injury, could return Sunday.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)