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Sagging Mets On Road Vs. Surging Phillies

(Sports Network) - The last time the Philadelphia Phillies squared off against the despised New York Metsmore than two months ago, they didn't score a run over the three-game road series.

The two National League East inhabitants will do business again starting with Friday's opener of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park.

Philadelphia enters this series riding an 11-game home winning streak and has posted the best record in the majors at 12-2 since July 22. It salvaged the finale of a three-game series in Washington on Sunday before taking all three matchups with Florida in the week, including last night's 5-4 win in 10 innings. The Phillies benefited from a bad call from third-base umpire Bob Davidson in the bottom of the ninth, then took the lead for good on Carlos Ruiz's home run to lead off the top of the 10th inning.

"He has a quick bat," Phils manager Charlie Manuel said of Ruiz, who ended with three hits and three RBI and has 13 runs batted in over his last nine contests. "This is the best I've seen him swing since he started in the big leagues."

Raul Ibanez extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate and an RBI, while Placido Polanco chipped in a trio of hits for the Phillies, who are still two games behind the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves.

New York has lost three of four games this month and will continue a six-game road trip Friday night in the City of Brotherly Love. It just dropped two of three matchups with Atlanta at Turner Field and suffered an 8-3 loss Wednesday in the series finale.

Mike Pelfrey continued his recent struggles and was reached for five runs, three of which were earned, over 4 2/3 innings to absorb the loss.

"I think every start you take the same way, if you win it's good, if you lose it's bad," said Pelfrey. "It's been frustrating for the last six or seven starts now. It definitely continued [Wednesday]."

Luis Castillo had two hits and an RBI to highlight the offense for the Mets, who are eight games behind the Braves for NL East supremacy. Angel Pagan and Carlos Beltran were both credited with an RBI as New York fell to 6-17 in the past 23 road games.

The Mets hope that Jonathan Niese can right the road ship when he takes the mound tonight. Niese is 1-3 with a 4.20 earned run average in his last five starts, with New York going 1-4 in that span, and is coming off last Sunday's 14-1 loss versus Arizona. He was rocked for a career-high seven runs -- six earned -- and seven hits in 4 1/3 frames to fall to 7-5 in 19 starts.

Niese faced the Phillies for the first time in his career back on April 30 at Citizens Bank Park and beat them with seven innings of one-run ball. The lefty fanned seven batters and issued only one walk that day.

Niese's effort helped New York to its fourth win in six meetings with Philadelphia this season.