(Sports Network) - It's been almost two months since the Mets last won back- to-back games. The way Cole Hamels pitched against them last time out, coupled with the Phillies' furious rally on Thursday night, New York figures to have its hands full tonight.
Philadelphia will try to score its first runs of the season this year at Citi Field as it renews its rivalry with hosting New York with the first of three straight games.
The Mets are just 4-6 in August and haven't strung together back-to-back wins since June 22-23. They'll get a chance to do so tonight thanks to Johan Santana's brilliant outing versus the Rockies.
Santana, who threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings in beating the Phillies last Saturday, went the distance in a five-hitter on Thursday afternoon, striking out 10 in a 4-0 victory.
Jose Reyes added two hits, an RBI, a run scored and two stolen bases for the Mets, who gave All-Star David Wright the day off as he is mired in a 2-for-33 slump over his last nine games.
New York was also without closer Francisco Rodriguez after placing the embattled pitcher on the restricted list. Rodriguez was charged with third- degree assault for allegedly punching his father-in-law in the face in the Citi Field clubhouse on Wednesday night.
The Mets struggled versus Hamels last Saturday, but Santana bailed them out in the 1-0 victory. Hamels allowed the lone run, a seventh-inning homer, over seven innings, striking out 11 in a tough-luck loss. The left-hander has lost both starts versus the Mets this year despite allowing just three earned runs over 13 1/3 innings, and is 2-6 lifetime against them with a 3.71 earned run average.
Hamels hadn't factored into the decision of his last four starts before that setback and is just 7-8 on the season with a 3.45 ERA despite allowing one run or less in four of his last six starts. Philadelphia, meanwhile, has scored two runs or less in nine of his 23 outings this year.
The 26-year-old could be in line for some support tonight after the Phillies rallied from seven runs down in the eighth inning to claim a 10-9 victory over the Dodgers on Thursday night and pull within two games of the first-place Braves in the NL East.
The Phillies plated four runs in the eighth frame to get within 9-6 before getting the rest of the runs off LA closer Jonathan Broxton. Ben Francisco hit a potential double play ball with the bases loaded, but the ball went under Casey Blake's legs allowing two runs to score. Carlos Ruiz then capped the comeback with a two-run hit to left-center for the Phils' eighth win in 10 games and 15th in their last 17 home games.
"Our approach is that we have to see a lot of pitches, then you have to get a good pitch to hit, " said Ruiz, who is hitting .377 with 17 RBI since July 27. "So that's what we did tonight. We were working the count. I was going to the plate relaxed and thinking '[manager] Charlie [Manuel] gave me the go for it' to get a hit in what was a bunt situation."
Raul Ibanez went hitless in five at-bats and had a career-high 18-game hit streak snapped, but Placido Polanco was 2-for-4 and pushed his hit streak to 11 games.
Shane Victorino was activated from the disabled list on Thursday, but did not start, though he did pinch-hit. He has been out since July 28 because of an abdominal strain, but should start this evening.
He'll try to help Philadelphia get to R.A. Dickey again after the club banged him for six runs -- four earned -- on eight hits over just three innings of a 6-5 Mets loss on Sunday. Dickey threw 60 pitches and yielded a solo homer to Jayson Werth and a three-run shot to Ibanez.
"He has been able to, at times, throttle (his knuckleball) down and have a couple different speeds," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "[Sunday], everything seemed like it was a bit hard."
The 35-year-old righty fell to 7-5 with a 2.65 ERA this year after facing Philadelphia for the second time in his career. The first outing went much better, a home victory on May 25 in which he hurled six scoreless innings.
That win was part of a three-game home sweep for the Mets over the Phillies in which they outscored the club 16-0. New York has won five of nine in the 2010 season series so far.