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Utley smacks three-run homer to spark Phillies

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Philadelphia Phillies ended their slump just
in time to avoid last place.

Chase Utley hit a three-run homer, and Philadelphia snapped its
five-game skid by capitalizing on Kazuhisa Ishii's wildness for a
6-3 victory Wednesday night over the New York Mets.

Another defeat would have dropped the Phillies below the Mets
and into the NL East cellar.

"We were in last place for a long time. We don't want to go
back," manager Charlie Manuel said.

Cory Lidle tossed seven solid innings in a steady rain, and
David Bell drove in two runs to spark the Phillies to only their
second win in 10 games. They face Pedro Martinez on Thursday and
Atlanta's John Smoltz on Friday night.

"That'll be a good chance to win two more," Manuel said. "Got
to think on the bright side, be positive."

Cliff Floyd hit his 21st homer and an RBI single for the Mets.
Pinch-hitter Jose Offerman also connected for his first homer with
New York.

Backed by strong defense, Lidle (7-6) retired his first 10
batters before Mike Cameron's double. After losing 4-3 to Ishii
last week, the right-hander, who made his major league debut with
the Mets in 1997, allowed five hits and walked one. He struck out
seven, improving to 4-1 in five career games against the Mets.

"That's a lineup that I like to throw to," Lidle said. "I
feel like I have a good game plan against them."

Ugueth Urbina worked a perfect eighth with two strikeouts, and
Billy Wagner got three outs for his 19th save in 21 tries.

"Today was a big game. Tomorrow we've got to come back with the
same intensity and try to win two out of three," Lidle said.

Ishii (2-7) set down nine of his first 10 batters, then walked
three straight starting the fourth. After Jim Thome struck out,
Bell delivered a two-run single for the first hit of the game.

"I don't think my control was too off. I think I just became a
little too cautious that inning," Ishii said through a translator.
"I think I need to be more aggressive and stop protecting
myself."

Utley was next, and he drove a 2-2 pitch off the lower portion
of the right-center scoreboard for his 11th homer, just his second
against a left-hander.

"The more I see 'em, the more comfortable I feel," Utley said.
"It becomes a little easier, I guess."

It also was Utley's third home run in 30 at-bats against the
Mets this season.

"He crushed it, put a good swing on it," Manuel said. "That's
always a good sign."

A frustrated Willie Randolph popped right out of the dugout to
yank Ishii, booed by the crowd of 24,915 as he walked off the
mound. He gave up only two hits but walked four, and has lost four
of five starts.

"Right now, he's still in the rotation," Randolph said. "He's
out of his rhythm and he's trying to find it. He goes through some
spurts where he seems to find it, and I thought that was the case
early on tonight."

Cameron scored on Floyd's two-out single in the fourth, making
it 5-1. But Bobby Abreu walked, stole second and scored on Thome's
RBI groundout in the fifth.

Offerman homered in the fifth and Floyd in the sixth, cutting it
to 6-3.

Philadelphia employed a drastic shift against Floyd, and it paid
off in the second inning. Utley, the second baseman, fielded a hard
one-hopper in medium right field and barely threw out Floyd, with
Thome getting back to first just in time.

"The Braves did it once to me, but not quite like this," Floyd
said. "All you can do is hit the ball hard. You can't worry about
where they're playing. You go up there and try to stay in your
game."

Game notes
Floyd is 16-for-37 (.432) against Philadelphia this season
with five homers, more than any other Phillies opponent. Mike
Piazza is next with four. ... The start was delayed 34 minutes
because of rain. Neither team took batting practice on the field.
... Ishii dropped to 1-4 in seven outings against Philadelphia. ...
Utley is 11-for-32 (.344) against New York this year. ... Mets INF
Miguel Cairo, on the 15-day DL since June 15 with a strained left
hamstring, began his rehab assignment with Class-A St. Lucie, going
1-for-4 with a single as the DH. ... New York pinch-hitters have
three homers this year. Offerman's first career pinch-homer came on
May 19, for Philadelphia against St. Louis. ... The Mets lead the
season series 7-4.