Phils lose 8th straight, longest skid in 11 years

NEW YORK (AP) - September 24, 2011

Hunter Pence dropped a deep fly ball for an error that led to five unearned runs, and the New York completed a doubleheader sweep with a 6-3 victory Saturday night that handed the NL East champions their eighth straight defeat.

Having already secured homefield advantage throughout the postseason, the sluggish Phillies remained winless since clinching their fifth consecutive division title last Saturday. The losing streak is their longest since an eight-game skid late in the 2000 season, when they finished 65-97 and last in the NL East under manager Terry Francona.

In the afternoon opener, R.A. Dickey took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and David Wright hit a tiebreaking double in the eighth as New York won 2-1. Shane Victorino doubled with one out in the seventh for Philadelphia's first hit, and Dickey wound up with a no-decision.

Pitching a parade of relievers in a bullpen tuneup for the playoffs, the Phillies jumped out to an early 3-0 lead against rookie Dillon Gee in the nightcap. But things quickly unraveled in the third.

With two on and two outs, Willie Harris hit a long drive to right and Pence, making his first start since missing three games with a strained left knee, took an awkward route to the ball. It glanced off his glove on the warning track and both runners scored on a three-base error.

David Herndon (1-4) then issued his second walk of the inning, drawing the ire of visibly irritated manager Charlie Manuel. He yanked the right-hander in favor of Kyle Kendrick, who gave up an RBI double to Nick Evans and a two-run single to Josh Thole.

Jason Pridie doubled off Kendrick to begin the fourth and scored on Ruben Tejada's single, making it 6-3.

Batting cleanup, Pence also grounded into a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded and nobody out in the first. Gee (13-6) escaped unscathed and recovered from his shaky start to allow three runs - two earned - and nine hits in six innings.

It was the first win in five starts for Gee, roughed up by Philadelphia twice this season.

Bobby Parnell retired all five batters he faced, and Manny Acosta got three outs for his fourth save. He also closed out the day game.

After a rainout Friday night, the Phillies played their third doubleheader in 10 days. The wet weather gave them their first day off since Aug. 28, when they were rained out due to Hurricane Irene.

Jimmy Rollins started both games for the Phillies. He had three hits in the nightcap, including a bunt and an RBI single. Slumping second baseman Chase Utley doubled, walked and hit the ball hard three times.

Still, the pitching-rich Phillies are averaging just 2.41 runs while going 5-12 in their last 17 games. They have four games remaining before the playoff opener next Saturday.

Roy Halladay tries to stop the slide Sunday when he makes his final regular-season start against Mike Pelfrey and the Mets.

Cole Hamels pitched seven sharp innings for the Phillies in the opener, allowing only a pinch- homer by Valentino Pascucci that tied the score in the seventh. The left-hander, 3-10 in 17 starts against the Mets, yielded four hits and struck out seven.

Hamels said he'll start again on three days' rest Wednesday night in Atlanta, using the regular-season finale as his final tuneup for the playoffs. He said the losing streak has been "depressing and angry."

"I know we're a good team and we're not winning," Hamels said. "So it's becoming very frustrating because you expect more out of everybody, and we're not able to do it."

A switch-hitter, Victorino batted right-handed to get a better look at Dickey's knuckleball. He snapped an 0-for-20 slide with his seventh-inning double and scored when Ryan Howard followed with a single.

The Mets have never thrown a no-hitter. Born in 1962, they are closing in on 50 full seasons without one.

"I had the type of knuckleball today where I thought I had the chance, and I don't often say that," Dickey said.

Parnell (4-6) retired Placido Polanco on a grounder with two on to end the eighth. Philadelphia had two on when Carlos Ruiz flied out to end it.

Ruben Tejada singled with one out in the eighth off Brad Lidge (0-2) and stole second before Wright hit a grounder inside third base.

Hamels, trying to match a career high with his 15th win, let a 1-0 lead slip away when Pascucci went deep with two outs in the seventh for his first major league home run since Oct. 2, 2004, with the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium.

Dickey retired his first 15 batters before walking Ruiz to start the sixth.

With two outs and Ruiz on second, Rollins hit a deep drive that sent Evans back to the warning track. Evans, who began the game at first base, got turned around and tumbled to the dirt as he made a tough catch that kept the game scoreless.

"I just prayed," Evans said.

NOTES: Howard returned to the lineup in the opener after missing six games with a sore left ankle. He received an anti-inflammatory injection Monday to relieve the pain. He did not start the nightcap. ... Mets manager Terry Collins indicated that RF Lucas Duda and reliever Jason Isringhausen (back) probably will miss the rest of the season. Duda was still having headaches after crashing into the outfield fence Wednesday in St. Louis. ... New York CF Angel Pagan sat out both games. Pagan has been experiencing headaches since hitting himself in the back of the head on a backswing Thursday. ... Former Mets slugger Darryl Strawberry was asked whether any team ever offered to move in the outfield fences for him. "Don't matter, I hit 'em out of anywhere," he said, smiling. The Mets are considering a change in the dimensions at spacious Citi Field next season. ... Dickey concluded his season with his 12th straight quality start, a career best.

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