NEW YORK -- Hisanori Takahashi is making a habit out of fooling some of baseball's best hitters with his double-pump leg-kick motion and deceptive changeup.
In his second big league start -- both against last year's World Series opponents -- Takahashi threw another six scoreless innings and the New York Mets shut out the Philadelphia Phillies for the second straight game, 5-0 on Wednesday night."He's a great pitcher with great instincts," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "He had great command of his pitches."
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Rod Barajas had a two-run double and a sacrifice fly off Joe Blanton and Jose Reyes had his fourth straight multihit game, with his first homer of the season for New York.The Phillies were shut out in consecutive games for the first time since August 2008, and they were blanked for the third time in four games.Luis Castillo had two of the Mets' four stolen bases in their fourth straight win.The Phillies mustered only seven hits in their fourth straight loss. The defending NL champs are hitting .199 (51 for 256) in their last eight games and have been outscored 37-15. A night after being shut down by knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, facing the awkward hesitation motion of Takahashi did not help.
• The last time the Phillies were shut out in consecutive games was Aug 7-8, 2008 vs. Florida.
• It was the fourth time the Phillies were shut out this season. They were shut out seven times last year.
• The last time the Phillies were shut out three times in four games was June of 1990.
Manager Charlie Manuel closed the clubhouse for 15 minutes afterward."A lot of times when you're not scoring runs, you look dead. You like you have no energy," Manuel said. "I'd like for us to pick it up a little bit, a little more intensity a little more fire."Shane Victorino, in a 3 for 26 slump (.115), said the meeting was about "losing the right way.""There was no yelling. There was no screaming. You know Charlie, he's not going to get deep," Victorino said. "He just wanted to make a few points and he did."The Mets have won four of five since returning from a 2-6 road trip that ramped up the rumblings about Manuel's job security. Two wins against the Yankees and taking the first two of three against the Phillies have quieted that talk for now -- and moved New York above .500 (24-23) for the first time since May 13."We're playing good baseball. Jose Reyes is igniting the club," Manuel said.Takahashi (4-1) gave up five hits without walking a batter and striking out six. The 35-year-old left-hander, in the rotation because of injuries to Jonathon Niese and John Maine, and Oliver Perez's inability to throw strikes, pitched five-hit ball for six innings Friday against the Yankees in his big league debut as a starter."To have a performance such as that especially against two very good teams, elite teams, it lengthens the opportunity for him," Manuel said about Takahashi's continuing presence in the rotation.Takahashi made 202 starts in Japan before signing a minor league deal in the offseason with the Mets. He made 15 relief appearances before being bumped into the rotation for New York.Philadelphia did not advance a runner to third until there was one out in the sixth, and then Takahashi fooled the No. 4 and 5 hitters into easy outs. Ryan Howard flailed helplessly at an 82 mph changeup for strike three and Jayson Werth hit a lazy fly to right."I know he's one of the biggest hitters in the game, and [Rod] Barajas had a good plan to get him out," Takashi said of Howard. "I stuck to the plan."Relievers Jenrry Mejia, Ryota Igarashi and Fernando Nieve each worked an inning to complete the shutout.Ike Davis led off the second by doubling off the wall in center, just to the right of the 408 foot sign. He went to third on Angel Pagan's single to right and scored on Barajas' sacrifice fly off Blanton (1-3).Reyes led off the third with a homer.In the sixth, Barajas hit a two-run double off Blanton and Reyes greeted reliever Chad Durbin with an RBI single to make it 5-0.Blanton gave up five runs and six hits. He walked four, one intentional.
The Mets last held the Phillies scoreless in back-to-back games in July 1998, at Shea Stadium. ... Dickey, hit on the left elbow by a liner Tuesday, said he should be fine to make his next start Sunday. ... Manuel said he is considering Nieve for a spot start Saturday. ... Phillies C Carlos Ruiz was not in the starting lineup because his right shoulder has been a little banged up. ... Barajas was hit on his right wrist by a wild pitch that bounced in the dirt in the seventh inning. X-rays were negative but he was very sore after the game. He was not sure if he could start Thursday.