NEW YORK -- Roy Halladay has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for years. Now that he's in the National League, he's also figuring out how to hit.
Good thing, too. The rest of the Phillies haven't created much offense at Citi Field.The durable right-hander singled and scored the first run for Philadelphia this season at the Mets' home ballpark, then managed to hold New York off the scoreboard over eight dominant innings Saturday night. Philadelphia cruised to a 4-0 victory.
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"He's got a five-game hitting streak," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel noted with a chuckle. "He must have figured he had to get it going."Not much to smile about for the Mets on this night. Closer Francisco Rodriguez returned to the mound after his two-game suspension and was booed by a home crowd frustrated by another inept performance at the plate and sloppy play in the field.Halladay (15-8) singled with two outs in the third off Pat Misch (0-1), the first hit by a Phillies player in 19 batters going back to Friday night's 1-0 loss. Placido Polanco drove him in with a base hit a few minutes later, their first run at Citi Field in 38 innings.They got three more thanks to three errors by the Mets, not that Halladay needed them.He plowed through one of the worst offenses in baseball, limiting New York to four hits and striking out seven without a walk. He won his season-high fifth straight start and improved to 9-1 against the NL East, where the Phillies closed within two games of division-leading Atlanta."I feel good, especially today, so it's just a matter of trying to maintain that," said Halladay, who has gone at least six innings in all but one of his 25 starts."It's just a different feeling here," added the former Blue Jays ace, in his first season with Philadelphia. "Everyone feels like we're a contending team. Everybody feels like we're going to be in the thick of it. You try to pitch the same as you would regardless, but it's definitely more fun knowing there could be something good down the road."Very little has been good lately for the bumbling Mets.Rodriguez was booed lustily in his first game since being arrested and charged with third-degree assault on his girlfriend's father at Citi Field.Rodriguez pitched a scoreless ninth a few hours after apologizing for the incident."We don't pay attention to that. We have to go out and do our jobs," outfielder Angel Pagan said. "We talked to him, some of the guys. I'm sure he'll handle things the right way."The Mets may not have been paying attention to the K-Rod situation, but it sure didn't seem like they were concentrating on the game, either.Rookie second baseman Ruben Tejada made their first major mistake when he fielded a grounder in the fifth inning and threw it into left field while trying to start a double play, and Jimmy Rollins scored for a 2-0 lead. Then in the sixth, All-Star third baseman David Wright let a two-out grounder go through his legs and two more runs crossed the plate."We got some ground balls when we needed them and didn't execute," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "Against that quality pitching, we have to execute in all aspects."All three runs were unearned, though that was probably of little solace to Misch.The left-hander was called up from Triple-A Buffalo to make his first start of the season, and held the Phillies to eight hits over six innings. He retired the first eight batters he faced to give the Mets a chance -- though that's about all it was with Doc on the mound.Halladay effortlessly set weak-hitting New York down in order the first three innings, mixing a mid-90s fastball with a wicked slider that caught Ike Davis looking twice.Jose Reyes finally connected in the fourth inning, belting a pitch to the base of the wall in the deepest part of the park for a triple. But the Mets failed in three tries to get him 90 feet home, the second straight night they stranded a runner at third base with no outs.The Mets still had a chance in the ninth inning, when reliever Ryan Madson loaded the bases with two outs. Josh Thole struck out swinging, though, prompting yet another chorus of boos from a crowd of 39,151 that had little to cheer about.
Phillies 2B Chase Utley (right thumb) was 1-for-3 with a triple in five innings for Class-A Clearwater on his first rehab assignment, while 1B Ryan Howard (left ankle) took early batting practice. Both could be back next week. ... Mets starting pitchers have only allowed seven earned runs in 55 1/3 innings over their last seven games.