Mets take two from Phillies

Posted: June 29, 2007

J.D. Durbin's Phillies debut started with a flourish - a Carltonesque three straight strikeouts - but grew progressively worse as the first-place New York Mets roughed up the 25-year-old righthander in their 6-5 win today in the opener of a day/night doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park.

Two home runs by Carlos Beltran helped the Mets complete the sweep with a 5-2 win in the nightcap that left them five games ahead of the Phils.

Pitching with his fourth major-league organization since spring training, Durbin allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings and didn't help his cause by being slow to cover home plate on a fourth-inning wild pitch that caromed off catcher Rod Barajas. The ball went about 15 feet up first-base side, and a run scored.

Earlier in the inning, Barajas failed to hold leftfielder Greg Dobbs' throw, enabling Ramon Castro to score on Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez' single to make it 5-1.

Despite the poor outing, Phils manager Charlie Manuel wasn't down on Durbin.

"His command needs improvement, but he definitely has a good fastball," Manuel said. "But overall I liked his arm. He has ability and has an upside to him."

Durbin served homers to Carlos Delgado (two-run shot) and Jose Reyes (solo shot) - both on low fastballs. The pitch to Reyes caught too much of the plate, said Durbin, adding that he thought he made a good pitch to Delgado.

"I've watched the replay 10 times, and I'd probably throw it again," he said. "I'm upset it happened, but you have to tip your cap to him."

As Hernandez was warming up at the start of the first inning, Manuel asked the umpires to inspect his cap because he observed a substance on the back of it.

"If it was legal, fine. If not, I wanted to know," Manuel said.

The umpires said the substance "was resin and dirt and said it was OK," Manuel said.

After the game, Hernandez (4-3), who has a 2.78 ERA and is having one of his best seasons, seemed angry when asked about the umps' search.

"Go ask Manuel," he said.

Mets manager Willie Randolph said the investigation worked to Hernandez's advantage.

"It pumped him up," Randolph said.

Hernandez baffled the Phils with off-speed stuff that rarely reached 70 m.p.h. The 37-year-old righthander allowed two runs - homers by Aaron Rowand and pinch-hitter Chris Coste - in six innings, during which he allowed only three hits while striking out seven and walking two.

Durbin lamented about breaking late to cover home on the fourth-inning wild pitch that bounced off Barajas. "When I first saw it, I didn't think it would get away that far, but you can't assume," he said. Ex-Phillie Ricky Ledee scored on the play, and the run turned out to be critical.

Trailing by 6-1, the Phils tried to rally as Coste, in his first at-bat since being recalled from double-A Reading, slammed a homer to left to start the sixth. It was Coste's first pinch-hit homer of his career and it ended a streak in which Hernandez had retired 12 straight.

Later in the inning, after two-out walks to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard (12 strikeouts in his last four games), Rowand struck out on an 87 m.p.h. fastball as Hernandez raised his arms triumphantly.

Guillermo Mota replaced Hernandez to start the seventh, and the Phillies quickly responded. They used Dobbs' single and Wes Helms' homer above The Angle in left-center to make it 6-4. Helms had been in a 10-for-66 drought.

In the eighth, Pat Burrell's pinch-hit RBI single off righthander Aaron Heilman made it 6-5, but the inning ended as Dobbs flied out to deep left-center.

Former Phillie Billy Wagner, greeted by a loud chorus of boos, struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth to notch his 16th save.


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181 or scarchidi@phillynews.com.

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