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Visit to Philly could provide jolt for Mets

Visit to Philly could give Mets a jolt

NEW YORK -- The Mets travel south on Thursday afternoon and again Sunday night. Three weekend games against the defending World Series champions await them in Philadelphia, beginning Friday night. Two games against the Braves in Atlanta follow. And who can say what else awaits a team that has shot itself in the foot a few times already this season?

But perhaps this is what the Mets need, a booster shot of whatever it is that seems to lift them any time the Phillies are in the other dugout. They may not be at their best when they engage the Marlins, the team that had denied them postseason entry each of the past two seasons. But they appear to be at their most intense.

David Wright indicated as much Wednesday afternoon following a second successive bullpen-related loss to the Marlins. Among the postmortems was Wright characterizing engagements with Philadelphia as "games that get the blood flowing," a suggestion perhaps that the three-game series against Florida had not.

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"We have to try to match the intensity we have when we play the Phillies when we play the rest of the National League," Wright said.

Perhaps the Mets are as Oliver Perez appears to be -- motivated by playing the best or the team that is expected to be the best.

Regardless, the Mets make their first visit to the confined confines of Citizens Bank Park on Friday night. They prospered there last season, winning six of nine games in the same field where the Phillies celebrated in October. The second game, late Saturday afternoon, is to be carried on FOX, with Joe Buck providing play-by-play, Eric Karros serving as the analyst and Ken Rosenthal as the reporter.

The Phillies could be in first place by then -- the Mets cannot be -- but perhaps that will add to the motivation.

"I think anytime you play a divisional rival, it's a big series," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said before Wednesday's loss. "They are the world champions, and you like to go in there and play against them to see how you match up. I think for the most part, it will be, obviously, exciting because we consider that a rivalry. That seems to be the one that's closest to us.

"I'm really looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to seeing how we react more than what they do. I want to see how we do, how our guys do. Hopefully we will be at full strength at that point and we will see where we are with those guys, [lineup-wise]. I've seen the Marlins; I want to see where we are, how we compare the division with those two teams."

Manuel probably won't know until Friday whether either Carlos Delgado or Luis Castillo will be available. Neither has played in the Mets' two most recent games because of injuries. But their replacements -- Fernando Tatis at first base and Alex Cora at second, respectively -- have performed well. Tatis had three hits -- including a home run -- and scored twice Wednesday, while Cora bunted in one run and he has played second base particularly well.

Pitching matchup
NYM: RHP Mike Pelfrey (2-0, 6.32 ERA)
After missing a start because of tendinitis in his right forearm, Pelfrey resumed his season Saturday, throwing the Nationals to the ground in a lopsided victory. With his "bowling ball" sinker working, he achieved 14 of 17 outs on ground balls and allowed six hits and three walks. He was removed after throwing 95 pitches -- 54 strikes -- in 5 2/3 innings. Now, with an extra day of rest, he is to confront the Phillies, who have beaten the Mets in three of his four career starts against them. Pelfrey has pitched merely 22 innings in those four games, allowing 32 baserunners and four home runs. He has allowed three home runs in 10 innings at Citizens Bank Park, an average of 30 per 100 innings, compared to an average of six per 100 innings in all other parks.

PHI: RHP Chan Ho Park (0-0, 7.16 ERA)
Park, a Met for one flawed start in 2007, demonstrated some of the promise he showed in Spring Training during his start Saturday against the Marlins. He allowed four runs in seven innings, but retired nine of the first 10 batters and 12 of the final 14. His only problems came in the third inning, when he allowed two home runs. As a member of the Dodgers last season, he made two relief appearances against the Mets, allowing one run, two hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings. His career numbers against them -- 5-3 record and 2.44 ERA -- mean little now because all but one of his seven other appearances against the Mets were created in his first tour with the Dodgers in 1994-2001. Tatis has had some success against Park, collecting five hits, two of them home runs, in 10 career at-bats.

Tidbits
Johan Santana's 1.10 ERA is the lowest by a Mets pitcher after five starts since 1990, when Frank Viola produced a 0.99 mark. ... Santana has allowed two or fewer runs in 11 consecutive starts. ... Carlos Beltran has a 12-game hitting streak, his longest since signing with the Mets. He has hit safely in 20 of the team's first 21 games and has reached base safely in 26 consecutive games dating back to Sept. 24, 2008. ... The Mets have scored in the first inning in eight of their past 10 games at Citi Field. They have scored 20 runs in those games. ... Left-handed reliever Casey Fossum, designated for assignment by the Mets on Sunday, cleared waivers and chose free agency. ... Jorge Cantu has more home runs -- three -- at Citi Field than any Mets player thus far. ... Single-game tickets for Mets regular-season games from June through October go on sale Sunday at 10 a.m. ET online at Mets.com and LosMets.com, and by phone at (718) 507-TIXX. In-person sales begin Monday at Citi Field, the Mets Clubhouse Shops in Manhattan (42nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, across from Bryant Park) and at the Roosevelt Field Mall (Garden City, Long Island), and KeySpan Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

This date in Mets history -- April 30: Don Cardwell walked none while pitching a five-hitter in the Mets' victory against the Phillies at Shea on this date in 1968. The game was one of 12 1-0 games the Mets would play -- they won seven -- in "The Year of the Pitcher." ... Mark Bomback, who won 16 games in the big leagues -- 10 of them in '80 -- pitched his lone career shutout on this date in '80, giving up just two hits while beating the Phillies, 2-0. ... Tim Teufel batted .458 with five home runs in 48 career at-bats against Tom Browning. On this date in '88, he lined out and had two singles against Browning before the Reds starter hit him with a pitch in the seventh inning, directly following a run-scoring balk. Darryl Strawberry rushed the mound, and he and Browning were ejected. Two innings later, Reds manager Pete Rose was ejected for pushing umpire Dave Pallone after Pallone's late call at first base on a play that scored the decisive run in the Mets' 6-5 victory. Rose subsequently was suspended for 30 days. ... On this date in '90, two Braves -- Ernie Whitt, the lumbering catcher, and Dale Murphy -- scored from first and second base on a two-out infield ground ball as David Cone, holding the ball, argued a safe call at first base with umpire Charlie Williams. The Braves, behind third-year pitcher John Smoltz, won, 7-4. Cone eventually was charged with an error, but the initial ruling by the official scorer was "player's indifference," a term that doesn't exist in the scoring rules. "Indifferent isn't what I was," Cone said. "I was anything but that." Manager Davey Johnson added: "I've seen a lot of strange things in my lifetime. This one goes to the top of the list. I've seen one guy score on something like that, but never two. It was double vapor lock."

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• SNY

On radio
• WFAN 660, WADO 1280 (Español)

Up next
• Saturday: Mets (Oliver Perez, 1-2, 9.31) at Phillies (Jamie Moyer, 3-1, 5.09), 3:40 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Mets (John Maine, 1-2, 5.40) at Phillies (Joe Blanton, 0-2, 8.41), 1:35 p.m. ET
• Monday: Mets (Livan Hernandez, 1-1, 6.63) at Braves (Jo-Jo Reyes, 0-1, 4.26), 7:00 p.m. ET

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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