(Sports Network) - While the Philadelphia Phillies are just about certain to capture another National League East title, they've got only one more opportunity to clinch a playoff spot in front of their home fans.
In the final regular-season contest held at Citizens Bank Park in 2010, the Phillies hope to wrap up their fourth consecutive division crown in this afternoon's clash with the rival New York Mets.
Philadelphia has a magic number of two to win the East, needing both a victory over the Mets and a loss by second-place Atlanta to accomplish the feat. Neither happened yesterday, as the Braves stayed alive by defeating Washington and the Phillies had their 11-game winning streak finally stopped in a 5-2 setback to New York.
The Mets scored all of their runs in the seventh inning to overcome an early 2-0 hole, with pinch-hitter Lucas Duda delivering the deciding blow with a three-run double off reliever Chad Durbin. Josh Thole came through with an RBI single to knock in New York's first run, while Jose Reyes capped the uprising with a double for a 5-2 lead.
Dillon Gee (2-1) did his part towards helping the Mets end their season-high six-game slide, with the rookie limiting Philadelphia to two runs and five hits while striking out five over seven sharp innings. Hisanori Takahashi threw a scoreless ninth to pick up his eighth save of the year.
The Phillies grabbed a quick 2-0 advantage when Ryan Howard followed a Chase Utley single with a towering home run in the bottom of the first inning, but were kept off the scoreboard afterward.
"I just tried to locate my fastball and keep them off balance after the Howard home run," Gee said. "I just tried to bear down from there and not leave the ball in the middle of the plate again."
Philadelphia starter Kyle Kendrick (10-10) shut out the Mets over the first six innings but ran into trouble in the seventh and was charged with four runs allowed (three earned) in 6 1/3 frames.
"I was happy with the way I threw, but we lost the game so it's mixed emotions," Kendrick said.
Following today's showdown, Philadelphia will play its final six regular- season games on the road, the last three of which will take place against the Braves.
The Phillies could be in for another strong pitching outing in the finale, considering the way Cole Hamels has performed of late. The 2008 World Series MVP has been on an incredible roll, winning each of his last five starts and yielding a mere two runs in a span of 36 2/3 innings. He also hasn't surrendered a home run over the course of that impressive stretch.
Hamels was excellent once again in Monday's key 3-1 victory over the Braves, working eight innings and giving up just the one run on six hits while fanning six. That effort followed up a September 14 gem at Florida in which the left- hander struck out a season-high 13 batters in 6 2/3 innings and was touched for only a single run.
The 26-year-old hasn't had much luck when facing the Mets during his career, and especially so this season. Hamels has lost in all three of his previous 2010 encounters with New York, but delivered a quality start each time and his team didn't score a run in any of those games.
Hamels came out on the short end of back-to-back 1-0 defeats to the Mets on August 7 and 13, respectively, to fall to 2-7 lifetime against New York with a 3.43 ERA in 12 starts.
Pat Misch will try to keep the Mets' scoreless streak in games pitched by Hamels going when he toes the rubber for the visitors. The journeyman southpaw is still seeking his first victory since being promoted from Triple-A Buffalo in mid-August and will be making his first start since August 30.
Misch has pitched five times in relief this month and hasn't given up a run in a total of 2 1/3 innings. He had lost four consecutive starts while posting a 5.14 ERA prior to being placed in the bullpen, however, permitting four or more runs three times during that sequence.
The first of those starts took place against the Phillies on August 14, a 4-0 loss at Citi Field. Misch allowed all four runs in a six-inning stint that night, but only one was earned due to a pair of Mets errors.
In eight lifetime appearances, three of which have been starts, against Philadelphia, the 29-year-old is 0-2 with a 4.13 ERA.
Today's tilt marks the final meeting between these NL East foes in 2010. The Phillies have won nine of the first 17 matchups and five of the eight games held at Citizens Bank Park.