Mets knock Hamels around as Phillies lose

Mets slugger David Wright (left) homered in his first at-bat off the disabled list, a two-run shot to right field. AP
Mets slugger David Wright (left) homered in his first at-bat off the disabled list, a two-run shot to right field. AP
Posted: September 22, 2013

The Phillies have many moves to make in order to field a competitive team in 2014, but one area that needs no fixing is the top of the rotation with Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee.

During the second half of the season, Hamels has reverted to his all-star form, and even Friday's hiccup against the New York Mets shouldn't lower expectations for next season.

After 10 straight quality starts (six or more innings, three or fewer earned runs), Hamels wasn't sharp during Friday's 6-4 loss to the Mets at Citizens Bank Park.

The loss left the Phillies at 71-82 and assured them of their first losing season since 2002, when they finished 80-81.

It's also the second straight year the Phillies won't be in the postseason after a five-year run. When asked if he feels the Phillies could return to contending status next year, Hamels gave an honest reply.

"I hope so," he said. "I hope so. I know we have a lot to work on, and if it doesn't fire you up and motivate you for the offseason, then I don't know what does."

The Phillies have been out of contention for a while, but, to his credit, Hamels has continued to pitch well, aside from Friday's effort.

"You want to see competitiveness from both sides and still playing baseball like it means something," Hamels said. ". . . I have a job to do, and the obligation to me is to be the best I can for my teammates and stick to the type of pride I have to do things to the best of my abilities."

In seven innings, Hamels allowed six runs (all earned) on 10 hits while striking out eight and walking none.

He is now a deceptive 8-14, and failed in a bid to earn his 100th career win. As for milestones, he now has 1,503 career strikeouts.

In his previous 14 starts, Hamels was 6-2 with a 2.32 ERA. Even though this was a difficult outing, it marked the 74th consecutive start in which he pitched five or more innings, the longest active streak in the majors.

"His stuff was good, and he didn't have any luck," interim manager Ryne Sandberg said.

Hamels, who threw 115 pitches, allowed three first-inning runs on Daniel Murphy's RBI single and a two-run home run by David Wright, playing his first game since suffering a strained right hamstring on Aug. 2.

The Mets made it 5-0 on RBI singles by Andrew Brown in the third and Eric Young Jr. in the fourth.

The Phillies went up against Daisuke Matsuzaka, whose delivery to the plate can be measured by a sun dial.

The slow-working righthander shut out the Phillies for the first three innings. The fourth inning was a different story; the Phillies scored four runs.

Darin Ruf's two-run double and a throwing error brought home the first three runs.

Then came one of the wackiest plays of the season. With Ruf on second, John Mayberry Jr. hit a ball up the middle. Matsuzaka stopped it by making a kick save that Flyers goalie Steve Mason would envy. Matsuzaka trapped Ruf in a rundown, but Mets shortstop Omar Quintanilla missed while making a diving tag attempt, enabling Ruf to reach third and Mayberry to get to second.

Hamels then delivered an RBI groundout for the fourth run.

Hamels gave up another run in the seventh on a fielder's choice RBI by Josh Satin, who barely beat Chase Utley's relay throw to first, avoiding an inning-ending double play.

Contact Marc Narducci at Follow @sjnard on Twitter.

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