NEW YORK – Roy Oswalt considers himself a cerebral pitcher. He prides himself on taking detailed notes on hitters, studying hours of game film and putting together a comprehensive plan of attack before he ever steps on the mound.
All that's left after that is to make the pitches.
Relying on what he learned from watching the Mets earlier in the series, Oswalt set down New York in quick fashion Sunday. He yielded only four hits in his second complete game this season, as the Philadelphia Phillies won 3-0 in a tidy 2 hours, 15 minutes.
"Pretty much fastball and changeup most of the day, and started to add some curveballs late so they wouldn't start sitting on pitches," Oswalt said. "It worked."
Oswalt needed 113 pitches for his 20th career complete game. He struck out six, allowed only one walk (to the pitcher) and didn't allow a runner to reach second base.
In fact, the only time he was in trouble came in the ninth inning, and only because Jose Reyes lined a pitch off one of Oswalt's legs. Trainers came out to check on Oswalt and he threw a warmup pitch before staying in the game — the Phillies bullpen barely stirred — and promptly started a 1-6-3 double play. Oswalt ended the game a minute later by striking out Carlos Beltran.
David Wright was waiting on deck, though he probably wanted no part of Oswalt again. He'd already struck out in each of his first three tries.
"He was definitely on his game. He can throw any pitch at any time," said Josh Thole, who also went 0 for 3. "You know any time you face a guy like that, you're in for a rough time. Except for one pitch, everything he threw me was at my knees or below."
Raul Ibanez hit a solo homer off Jon Niese (9-8), and Chase Utley and Ryan Howard also drove in runs to provide the only offense for the Phillies. They nosed ahead of Atlanta in the NL East by winning for the fifth time in six games, although the Braves had a chance to pull back into a tie when they played the St. Louis Cardinals later Sunday.
"Today was a big game for us," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "If we finish up and win series the rest of the year, we'll be good. That'll put us in a very good spot."
Oswalt (12-13) had the lead before he even took the hill.
Shane Victorino led off with a single, Placido Polanco drew a walk and Utley singled to right to make it 1-0 in the first. Philadelphia added another run in the third when Polanco doubled and Howard hit a two-out single to left, and Ibanez homered to straightaway center in the seventh.
Even that much offense had to make Niese a bit jealous.
The closest the Mets got to scoring was first base — Angel Pagan was cut down trying to steal second in the first inning, and Niese was erased before reaching second on fielder's choice groundouts by Jose Reyes in the third and sixth innings.
Niese wound up allowing eight hits and a pair of walks in seven innings, losing for the third time in his last four starts at Citi Field. He hasn't won at home since July 27.
"I thought he pitched extremely well. I thought he had good stuff, good life on his pitches," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "I thought some extra rest helped him."
Niese pitched especially well during the middle innings and gave the Mets a chance, but Oswalt by now is used to making due with little run support. He only gets about three runs per game, the fourth-lowest average of any starting pitcher in the major leagues this season.
Much of that had to do with the Houston Astros' anemic offense earlier in the year, but this was still the third time the Phillies have supplied him with three runs or fewer. Philadelphia has won each of those starts, though, and hasn't lost with Oswalt on the mound since he dropped his debut with the defending NL champions on July 30.
"I feel like I got a new life coming over here," Oswalt said in his subtle Mississippi drawl. "I've been out of playoff contention for about five years. Coming here, these guys have been there twice. They've got a ring and I don't."
Notes: SS Jimmy Rollins (tight right hamstring) returned to Philadelphia for an MRI exam on Monday. Manuel still considers him day to day. ... Beltran (left knee tendinitis) was back in the starting lineup after sitting out Saturday. ... The Phillies selected the contract of INF Brian Bocock from Triple-A Lehigh Valley and designated RHP Cesar Carrillo for assignment.