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Mets Vs. Phillies: Niese Looks To Get Mets Back On Winning Track

(Sports Network) – For how dominant Phillies starter Cole Hamels has been in his career, the New York Mets seem to have the left-hander’s number.

Hamels draws the assignment this afternoon against the Mets in the second portion of a three-game series at Citi Field. He was hammered by the Mets in his season debut on April 5, when he allowed six runs and seven hits in a season-worst 2 2/3 innings. Hamels rebounded in a 5-2 win on May 28 at New York, hurling seven innings of two-run ball with 10 K’s, but is still just 3-9 in 15 career starts in this matchup.

The 2008 World Series MVP is 7-2 with a 1.72 earned run average in his last 11 starts and the Phillies have scored 14 runs in each of his previous two trips to the mound. Hamels fired eight innings of two-run ball in a 14-2 win at Florida on July 5, then held Atlanta to one run and three hits in eight innings of last Sunday’s 14-1 triumph, improving to 11-4 with a 2.32 ERA in 19 overall starts.

Hamels has made eight road starts this season, going 5-1 with a 2.20 ERA.

Philadelphia handed the Mets a 7-2 loss in Friday’s series opener, as youngster John Mayberry recorded a pair of hits and a career-high five RBI to lead the charge. Mayberry was recently called up from the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Raul Ibanez homered and starting pitcher Vance Worley, another Lehigh Valley prospect, helped his own cause with an RBI groundout.

Worley earned the win on the hill with 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball and scattered three hits to push his record to 5-1 this season.

“We pressed him one time as far as pushing him to seven innings,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “It’s just a matter of time that you’ll be seeing him go deep in the game. He has that kind of talent.”

Manuel’s club has won two straight, three of four and is 21-8 since June 10. The Phillies will head to Chicago to take on the Cubs next week and own a 3 1/2-game lead over Atlanta for National League East bragging rights.

New York had won four in a row before losing three straight and four of its last five games. In Friday’s setback to the despised Phillies, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was banged around for four runs and six hits in seven innings of work. He also struck out five, walked two and posted a hit.

Carlos Beltran hit a solo homer — his 14th of the season — and scored both runs for the Mets, who started a seven-game residency on a sour note. With the non-waiver trade deadline of July 31 approaching, Beltran is one name being mentioned as possible bait. The Mets have already dealt closer Francisco Rodriguez by trading him to Milwaukee on Tuesday.

“We all know the situation where I am,” Beltran said. “Everyone knows that Francisco got traded, but at the same time we need to move on. We have to look forward and avoid negative information or information that is going to keep us down.”

Taking the mound for the Mets tonight will be Jonathon Niese. Niese is coming off a relief stint in which he allowed two runs in just one-third of an inning during last Sunday’s 4-2 loss at San Francisco. He relieved starter Mike Pelfrey, who suffered the loss for giving up two runs over eight innings.

Niese has won five of his last seven decisions and defeated Los Angeles on July 6 with seven strong innings, as he allowed three runs and five hits with six strikeouts and one walk of his team’s 5-3 road win. He has dropped two straight starts at Citi Field, where he is 3-4 in nine outings. Niese is 1-2 with a 4.32 ERA in three starts against the Phillies this season.

In six career starts against the rival Phils, the left-hander sports a 2-3 ledger with a 3.11 ERA.

Philadelphia has won seven of 10 meetings with New York this season, including a 3-1 mark at Citi Field.