NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Mets could have used more days like this one before the pennant race was over.
Hunter Pence dropped a deep fly ball for an error that led to five unearned runs, and New York completed a doubleheader sweep of rival Philadelphia with a 6-3 victory Saturday night that handed the NL East champions their eighth straight defeat.
Having already secured home-field advantage throughout the postseason, the sluggish Phillies remained winless since clinching their fifth consecutive division title last Saturday. The losing streak is their longest since an eight-game skid late in the 2000 season, when they finished 65-97 and last in the NL East under manager Terry Francona.
“With what’s happened with us as of late, to beat that team, as good as they are, I don’t care who else is on the field, it’s big for us,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “We need the confidence that we can compete. So again, I’m really proud of the way our guys played today.”
In the afternoon opener, R.A. Dickey took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and David Wright hit a tiebreaking double in the eighth as New York won 2-1. Shane Victorino doubled with one out in the seventh for Philadelphia’s first hit, and Dickey wound up with a no-decision.
Dickey retired his first 15 batters before walking Carlos Ruiz to start the sixth.
The Mets have never thrown a no-hitter. Born in 1962, they are closing in on 50 full seasons without one.
“I had the type of knuckleball today where I thought I had the chance, and I don’t often say that,” Dickey said.
Pitching a parade of relievers in a bullpen tuneup for the playoffs, the Phillies jumped out to an early 3-0 lead against rookie Dillon Gee in the nightcap. But things quickly unraveled in the third.
With two on and two outs, Willie Harris hit a long drive to right and Pence, making his first start since missing three games with a strained left knee, took an awkward route to the ball. It glanced off his glove on the warning track and both runners scored on a three-base error.
“I saw it. I just missed it,” Pence said. “It’s a play that’s got to be made and it cost us big-time.”
David Herndon (1-4) then issued his second walk of the inning, drawing the ire of a visibly irritated Manuel. He yanked the right-hander in favor of Kyle Kendrick, who gave up an RBI double to Nick Evans and a two-run single to Josh Thole.
Jason Pridie doubled off Kendrick to begin the fourth and scored on Ruben Tejada’s single, making it 6-3.
“Obviously, I’m excited for how I finished the season,” said Gee, the first Mets rookie to win at least 13 games since Dwight Gooden won 17 in 1984. “Wins and losses, they kind of don’t really tell the whole story. Really today, the guy who pitched the best didn’t get the win: Dickey.”
Batting cleanup, Pence also grounded into a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded and nobody out in the first. Gee (13-6) escaped unscathed and recovered to allow three runs — two earned — and a career-high nine hits in six innings.
It was the first win in five starts for Gee, roughed up by Philadelphia twice this season.
“Just got to give this win, the credit to the hitters. They came back and really capitalized that inning and put me in position to get the win,” he said.
Bobby Parnell retired all five batters he faced, and Manny Acosta got three outs for his fourth save. He also closed out the day game.
After a rainout Friday night, the Phillies played their third doubleheader in 10 days. The wet weather gave them their first day off since Aug. 28, when they were rained out due to Hurricane Irene.
Loaded with pitching, the Phillies look worn out at the plate. They are averaging just 2.41 runs while going 5-12 in their last 17 games. They have four games remaining before the playoff opener next Saturday, and Philadelphia is expected to be a heavy favorite in the NL.
“Of course, yeah, you lose eight in a row, people are going to panic,” Victorino said. “But I’m not worried. We haven’t had our full lineup out there guys — relax. We haven’t had one through eight.”
Roy Halladay tries to stop the slide Sunday when he makes his final regular-season start against Mike Pelfrey and the Mets.
Cole Hamels pitched seven sharp innings for the Phillies in the opener, allowing only a pinch-hit homer by Valentino Pascucci that tied the score in the seventh. The left-hander, 3-10 in 17 starts against the Mets, yielded four hits and struck out seven.
Parnell (4-6) retired Placido Polanco on a grounder with two on to end the eighth. Philadelphia had two on when Carlos Ruiz flied out to end it.
Ruben Tejada singled with one out in the eighth off Brad Lidge (0-2) and stole second before Wright hit a grounder inside third base.
NOTES: Collins indicated that RF Lucas Duda and reliever Jason Isringhausen (back) probably will miss the rest of the season. Duda was still having headaches after crashing into the outfield fence Wednesday in St. Louis. … New York CF Angel Pagan sat out both games. Pagan has been experiencing headaches since hitting himself in the back of the head on a backswing Thursday. … Former Mets slugger Darryl Strawberry was asked whether any team ever offered to move in the outfield fences for him. “Don’t matter, I hit ’em out of anywhere,” he said, smiling. The Mets are considering a change in the dimensions at spacious Citi Field next season.