Aiming for sweep, Hamels tries to solve Mets

( - Cole Hamels will attempt to pick up his first victory of the season against a team that has given him fits over his career as the Philadelphia Phillies shoot for a three-game sweep of the New York Mets on Sunday afternoon.

Hamels began the season on the disabled list and has struggled over three starts, going 0-2 with a 7.02 earned run average. He followed up consecutive losses with a rough outing versus Toronto on Tuesday even though he did not get a decision.

The 30-year-old lefty gave up five runs on 10 hits over six innings, tagged for two home runs.

"I was trying to be on the corners but I was missing," Hamels said. "I had to throw right to their strength. They hit the ball out of the ballpark frequently and they did so tonight."

Hamels' second start of the season came at home versus the Mets on April 29 and he took a loss in a rain-plagued outing, charged with six runs on eight hits and five walks in 4 2/3 frames.

The loss dropped Hamels to 7-14 in his career versus the Mets with a 4.65 ERA in 27 meetings. He is 4-5 with a 4.19 ERA in 13 outings at Citi Field.

The Mets turn to red-hot lefty Jon Niese, who has pitched to a 1.01 ERA over his last four starts, giving up three runs over 26 2/3 innings.

Following back-to-back wins, Niese hurled seven scoreless frames of five-hit ball on Monday at Miami. He left with the lead, but ended up not getting a decision in his club's 4-3 loss.

The 27-year-old is 2-2 with a 1.82 ERA on the season and that includes a victory over the Phillies and Hamels on April 29. Niese logged seven innings of one-run ball, moving above .500 for his career in this series at 7-6 with a 3.00 ERA in 16 starts.

The Phillies came into this series having lost four in a row, but have bested the Mets in consecutive one-run games. That has Philadelphia in position to sweep New York in three games for the first time since April 26-28 of last year at Citi Field.

Philadelphia picked up the winning run in last night's 5-4 victory in the ninth inning on Ryan Howard's key hit. Jimmy Rollins worked a two-out walk off Kyle Farnsworth and Chase Utley followed with a single before Howard stroked a base hit to center to score Rollins.

Howard had four hits, Rollins hit a solo homer among his three hits and scored four times, and Utley had a pair of hits and drove in two runs.

"Big night for the three guys in our lineup. Rollins, Utley and Howard combined for nine hits, four runs and four RBI," said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. "They carried the load for the offensive side of things."

David Wright launched a two-run homer and drove in three runs for the Mets, who have lost five straight -- four of those by one run -- and eight of their last nine games.

"It's frustrating losing," said Wright. "Whether you do it 5-4 or 4-3 or 2-1, it doesn't matter. The frustrating part is losing."

Curtis Granderson had two hits for New York but is batting just .187 on the year.