Published September 20, 2013
| Sports Network
The Philadelphia Phillies have reached their final home series of the season and will entertain the rival New York Mets Friday in the opener of a three-game set from Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies opened a six-game homestand by taking two of three versus the Miami Marlins and were aiming for a sweep until they dropped a 4-3 decision in 10 innings on Wednesday. Ed Lucas put the Marlins ahead to stay with a leadoff homer in the 10th inning and Cesar Jimenez was dealt the loss.
Zach Miner started in place of Kyle Kendrick (shoulder) and lasted three innings, allowing just two hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Chase Utley drove in two runs, while Cesar Hernandez and Domonic Brown ended with two hits apiece for the Phillies, who entered Wednesday's game winners in eight of their last 11 games and are 18-14 under interim manager Ryne Sandberg. Utley is batting .362 with 17 hits, 15 RBI and two home runs in his last 12 games.
"I think when Charlie (Manuel) was let go, it woke some guys up," Utley said on the Phils' website. "We obviously didn't play very good baseball the first half of the year, but I still feel like we have some good players. Now is an opportunity for some guys to get some at-bats, get some reps at the Major League level and they're doing a good job. Obviously we didn't start strong, but we can finish strong."
With Utley's hot bat of late and starting pitcher Cole Hamels' recent turn- around, the Phillies are optimistic for next season. Hamels will draw the start Friday versus the Mets and is 4-0 with a 2.47 earned run average in his last seven starts. The Phillies have won all seven of those outings and handed Washington a 5-4 loss on Saturday with Hamels on the hill. He was touched for four runs -- three earned -- and eight hits in six innings, but improved to 8-13 in 31 starts with a 3.48 ERA.
The left-hander and 2008 World Series MVP has pitched at least six innings in 10 straight starts and is 2-2 with a 4.13 ERA against the Mets this season. Hamels, who is 3-6 in 16 home starts, has faced the Mets 25 times in his career and owns a 7-12 record to go along with a 4.29 ERA.
New York opens its final road trip of 2013, a six-game jaunt through Philadelphia and Cincinnati.
The Mets finished an 11-game homestand at 4-7 and lost two of three matchups versus the San Francisco Giants, including Thursday's 2-1 setback in which Jon Niese suffered a hard-luck loss. The only runs of the game he allowed were the two in San Francisco's fourth inning and the lefty lasted seven innings, giving up seven hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
"It's a tough one," said Niese. "(Catcher) Travis d'Arnaud and I did a good job of staying on the same page. Unfortunately we came up short."
Daniel Murphy drove in the lone run for the Mets.
Mets All-Star third baseman David Wright is nearing a return from his strained right hamstring and he has been sidelined since early August. Wright was expected to miss about six to eight weeks and went through running and fielding drills on consecutive days for the first time Wednesday.
"I think that it takes a little bit of time to get into that baseball shape, and I'm getting pretty close," Wright said on the Mets' website.
Daisuke Matsuzaka is slated to make his sixth start of the season for the Mets Friday and he is 1-3 with a 6.12 ERA in the first five trips to the mound. Matsuzaka won his last start, a 3-1 victory over Miami on Saturday, when he fired seven innings of one-run ball. The win matched Dice-K's total in 2012, when he went 1-7 in 11 starts with Boston.
Matsuzaka, a right-hander, lost to the Phillies on Aug. 28, when he yielded four runs in 4 1/3 innings of a 6-2 loss. In three career starts against the Phillies, Dice-K is 1-1 with a 4.41 ERA.
Philadelphia has taken nine of the 16 meetings with New York this season, but the Mets have won four of the past six contests between the NL East foes.