A matchup with the struggling New York Mets may provide Cole Hamels with the perfect opportunity to earn his elusive first win.
Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies will try for their sixth straight victory at Citi Field and ninth win in 10 games overall against the Mets on Sunday.The Phillies (11-14) continued their recent dominance in this series Saturday as Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. hit consecutive home runs in the fifth inning en route to a 9-4 victory.Philadelphia has finally come through with some timely hitting this weekend. After scoring three or fewer runs in 11 of their previous 14 games, the Phillies have totaled 13 in the past two victories."That's definitely good. It's what we've been waiting for. We've got to make it more often," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We haven't been hitting in those right situations to knock those runs in, and today we did."Following a three-game skid, Manuel's club looks for its third straight win behind Hamels (0-3, 5.40), who has started to show signs of returning to form.Since allowing 13 runs over 10 2/3 innings in his first two starts, the left-hander has posted a 2.57 ERA in his last three with 19 strikeouts in 21 innings. He surrendered two runs and struck out six with one walk over eight innings of a 2-0 loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday."Just being able to really get in a groove and go deep in the ballgame was something I was pleased with," said Hamels, who has received three runs of support over his last three starts.Hamels is 5-10 with a 4.33 ERA in 21 starts against the Mets, but went 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA in four outings against them last season. He'll be facing a New York team that's managed 17 runs and batted .186 over its last six games.After scoring three times in five innings off rookie Jonathan Pettibone on Saturday, the Mets (10-12) have totaled 23 runs in their last nine against the Phillies.David Wright, who went 2 for 4 with an RBI on Saturday, is batting .327 with four home runs and three doubles in his career against Hamels.Catcher John Buck hit his eighth home run Saturday, but he's 2 for 22 with eight strikeouts versus Hamels.The Mets, looking to snap a three-game skid, will send Jonathon Niese (2-1, 3.81) to the mound. The left-hander will make his first start since departing after 2 1/3 innings when he was hit by a ball on his right leg against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.Niese has posted a 3.38 ERA while winning five of his last six decisions. He's gone 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA in his past four home starts against the Phillies.Michael Young has six hits in his last eight at-bats in this series, giving him a .439 average with five homers and 12 RBIs in 14 career meetings with the Mets.Ryan Howard knocked in two runs Saturday and has 21 RBIs in his last 12 games in this series. He's batting .343 during a nine-game hitting streak, but is 1 for 15 with seven strikeouts against Niese.Philadelphia has outscored New York 29-5 in the last three matchups at Citi Field.