Kendrick confounds Mets in 3-1 Phillies victory

Mets shortstop Jose Reyes isn't happy after Jimmy Rollins tagged him out at second base on a first-inning steal attempt.
Mets shortstop Jose Reyes isn't happy after Jimmy Rollins tagged him out at second base on a first-inning steal attempt.
Posted: August 16, 2010

NEW YORK - In many ways, Sunday's 3-1 Phillies win over the New York Mets might have been Kyle Kendrick's most impressive feat yet this season. Plenty suggested Kendrick was due for a long night.

The Mets stacked the lineup with seven lefthanded batters, a decent idea when facing the Phillies' fifth starter. ("That's what everyone does to me usually," he said.) Entering Sunday, lefties were hitting 102 points better than righties against Kendrick.

Five days before he took the mound at Citi Field, Kendrick couldn't make it through the fourth inning against Los Angeles.

None of that mattered Sunday. Kendrick continued his trend of being either really good or really, really bad. In other words, he's a fifth starter.

Against the Mets, Kendrick allowed one run in 62/3 innings and was in command nearly the entire time.

"He kept us in the game," manager Charlie Manuel said.

And the Phillies will take that from their fifth starter. In games Kendrick starts, the team is 14-9.

The Phillies left New York with a series win. They are two games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the National League East and tied for the wild-card lead with the San Francisco Giants, who come to town Tuesday for a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park.

That's when, most likely, Chase Utley returns to Manuel's lineup and the reloaded Phillies begin the drive for a fourth consecutive postseason berth with 24 games in 23 days, barring rainouts.

The Phils will need the two starting pitchers not named Roy or Cole - Kendrick and Joe Blanton - to win games, too. Since Kendrick's four-day demotion to the minors in late July, he has a 3.07 ERA in four starts.

The lone run he surrendered to the Mets was Jose Reyes' third-inning home run, which smacked the foul pole in right field. After that, Kendrick retired 14 of the next 15 batters.

After Kendrick walked Luis Castillo with two outs in the seventh, Manuel quickly emerged with the hook, not wanting to spoil what his starter had done.

Pinch-hitter Jeff Francoeur was the first to face reliever Chad Durbin, and he hit a deep fly ball to left-center. Shane Victorino made a running catch against the wall, near the 384-foot mark. It probably would have been a home run at Citizens Bank Park.

Durbin said he knew the ball was staying in the cavernous stadium and approached Francoeur differently than he would have in any other ballpark.

"Keep it in the middle of the park," he said.

Ryan Madson struck out two in the eighth, and Brad Lidge pitched a perfect ninth without cracking 90 m.p.h. on the radar gun for his sixth straight save.

Before the bullpen took over, an adjustment Kendrick made was crucial.

The Mets' lefthanded hitters were 5 for 20 (.250) against Kendrick. Before Sunday, lefties were hitting .330 with a .972 OPS against him. Righties were hitting just .228. Kendrick said he had pitched more aggressively inside against the lefties. He could command his pitches, and it showed.

Kendrick may have had some luck Sunday, but without overpowering stuff, he'll always need good fortune. Thus, his up-and-down season continues.

Said Kendrick: "I can't explain it."


Contact staff writer Matt Gelb

at 215-854-2928 or mgelb@phillynews.com.

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