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Mets throw third straight shutout against Phillies

Mets reliever Francisco Rodriguez reacts after getting Philadelphia's

Mets reliever Francisco Rodriguez reacts after getting Philadelphia's Jayson Werth to strike out swinging for the final out on May 27, 2010. Credit: AP

The Mets waited an hour and 55 minutes to play Thursday night's game against the Phillies because of rain. The way the Mets are going now, you get the impression they would have waited until Tuesday to get this one in.

For the third straight night, the Mets shut out the defending NL champions at Citi Field. This time it was a 3-0 victory fueled by seven innings from Mike Pelfrey and three hits and two RBIs from Jose Reyes.

The last time the Mets shut out one team over a three-game span? It was at Philadelphia on Sept. 26-28, 1969. The starting pitchers were named Koosman, Seaver and Gentry.

It also was the seventh time in franchise history that the Mets have pitched three straight shutouts and the first since April 12-15, 1988, when the pitchers were Ron Darling and Bobby Ojeda (against Montreal) and Dwight Gooden (against St. Louis).

"To keep this team from scoring for three games, that's huge,'' manager Jerry Manuel said. "We might have caught them down, but our guys did a good job.''

The Phillies have scored three runs, all in the ninth inning Sunday, in their last 47 innings.

The Mets swept the three-game series by a combined 16-0 score. They took over sole possession of first place and moved to within two games - two games! - of the first-place Phillies. In the last week, they went 5-1 against the Yankees and Phillies, the World Series teams from 2009.

"It was two fun series," said Pelfrey (7-1). "There were good crowds and there was energy in the crowd. I think as players, you feed off that. I don't remember the last time. Maybe back in '08, the last game of the year, everybody was jacked up for that last game. We didn't come through, but that energy is huge. We sense it and we feel it whenever it's there."

The Mets have won five in a row. The Phillies have lost five in a row. Up is down. Down is up. And a pennant race just might be in the cards.

"We are where we need to be," said Francisco Rodriguez, who pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 10th save. "Playing good baseball, pitching well, starting rotation going deep into games, bullpen doing the job. We are where we need to be. We know we can be better than where we are right now. June's coming up. The race is going to get stronger, and that's when we now step up and be a contending team by the end of the year."

The Mets now go to Milwaukee and San Diego brimming with confidence.

"We've got to take that attitude on the road and perform there like we did at home,'' Manuel said. The Mets are 19-9 at home and 6-14 on the road.

Mets starters are 6-0 with a 1.21 ERA in the last 10 games. Pelfrey continued that fine tradition, allowing three hits in seven innings. He walked five, struck out five and induced three inning-ending double-play balls - and all that after warming up twice in the bullpen because of the rain delay.

Pelfrey said he did half of his normal warmup before it started raining right before game time. Then he got hot again starting around 8:30 for the 9:05 start and said he felt better the second time. He took the mound firing bullets, striking out two in the first and one in the second.

The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the first on Reyes' infield hit and Jason Bay's double to left. Reyes, who also singled in the third, at that point had 11 hits in his last 21 at-bats.

The Phillies got their first baserunner and hit in the third. Wilson Valdez walked with one out, was bunted to second and went to third when Shane Victorino dunked one just in front of Jeff Francoeur in right for a single. But Pelfrey got Placido Polanco to bounce into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play, a theme that would repeat itself.

In the fourth, Pelfrey walked Ryan Howard with one out before Jayson Werth hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

In the fifth, Carlos Ruiz walked with one out and was erased - you guessed it - on a 1-6-3 double play on a ball hit by Valdez.

The Mets weren't having much luck with Cole Hamels, either. They loaded the bases in the third on a single, but Ike Davis grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

The Phillies threatened again in the sixth. Victorino singled and Polanco walked with one out. Pelfrey got Chase Utley to fly to deep center and Howard to ground to second.

Finally, in the seventh, Raul Ibañez singled with one out but was easily thrown out trying to steal second by Henry Blanco. The inning, and Pelfrey's night, ended when Angel Pagan made a sliding catch to rob Ruiz.

Pelfrey was removed for pinch hitter Fernando Tatis, who reached on an error by Polanco with one out and one on in the seventh. Reyes' two-run double to left made it 3-0.

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