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Millwood allows 3 Mets hits in 7 innings

NEW YORK (AP) -- Phillies manager Larry Bowa knows he has one of
baseball's best hitters in the middle of his lineup. And he's not
talking about Jim Thome.

Bobby Abreu homered and drove in two runs, and Kevin Millwood
pitched three-hit ball for seven innings to lead Philadelphia over
the New York Mets 5-1 Friday night.

Abreu connected against Mike Stanton leading off the eighth for
his 20th home run and second in two nights. That gave the All-Star
right fielder six consecutive seasons with 20 homers and 20 stolen
bases. No other active player has five in a row.

"He gets that average up a little bit, you're talking MVP
numbers," Bowa said. "This guy's done everything."

Thome hit his major league-leading 29th home run and finished
with three RBI for the Phillies, who bounced back from an
11-inning loss in the opener of the four-game series. Leadoff
batter Jimmy Rollins stole two bases, helping Philadelphia regain
sole posession of first place in the NL East.

Millwood (7-5) didn't give up a hit until the fifth and
outpitched Jae Seo.

"That's the best I've seen him use the inside part of the plate
in a long, long time," Bowa said.

Seo got the start when the Mets changed their minds about
calling up Scott Erickson. After New York's bullpen was forced to
work hard Thursday night, the Mets didn't want to demote a reliever
Friday to make roster space for Erickson and leave themselves short
in the bullpen all weekend.

Seo (4-6) gave them seven solid innings, but it wasn't enough.
Billy Wagner entered for the Phillies in the eighth throwing 100
mph and got five outs for his 14th save in 16 chances.

"You can't trust (those) boards. They don't know what they're
doing," Wagner said. "I just try to get people out. If it's hard
enough, then good."

In the third inning, Rollins singled and stole second for the
second time in the game. Two outs later, Thome drove Seo's first
pitch 435 feet to right-center for a 2-0 lead. The ball crashed
loudly against the scoreboard, drawing groans from the Fireworks
Night crowd of 42,584.

Millwood held the Mets hitless until Jose Reyes and Kaz Matsui
lined consecutive doubles down the left-field line with two outs in
the fifth, cutting it to 2-1.

But Mike Piazza struck out to end the inning, part of an 0-for-4
night that extended his slump to 1-for-25. He was booed after
popping out against Tim Worrell with a runner on in the eighth.

"No one's more frustrated than me and I understand that,"
Piazza said. "This is the time of the year you've got to kind of
pick yourself up by the bootstraps and dig in."

Abreu and Thome each added an RBI single in the ninth off John
Franco.

Using a sharp curveball, Millwood struck out six and walked four
in improving to 3-0 in his last six starts.

"He had everything working tonight," Mets manager Art Howe
said. "That curveball was nasty. It had a lot of bite to it."

The Phillies are looking for a big second half from Millwood
after he went into the All-Star break with a 5.15 ERA.

"This is huge for me to get off to a good start and hopefully
carry this on to the rest of the season," he said. "I didn't
pitch the way I wanted to in the first half, hopefully this will
balloon for me."

Seo allowed only two runs and six hits, but still lost for the
first time in six starts since June 11 at Kansas City.

Game notes
Piazza is 7-for-47 (.149) lifetime against Millwood. ...
Phillies 3B David Bell was in the lineup despite a tight left
quadriceps, the result of being hit by a pitch last week. ...
Erickson is now expected to start Monday night against Florida -- on
eight days' rest since his last outing for Triple-A Norfolk. ...
Matsui has seven doubles in eight games and 29 this season. ...
Piazza has not homered in 71 at-bats since June 22.