(SportsNetwork.com) - The NL East-leading New York Mets aim to even their three-game series with the division-rival Philadelphia Phillies Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.
Mets young ace Matt Harvey suffered his first loss of the season (5-1) in Friday's 3-1 decision and was touched for three runs and six hits, including a home run by Ryan Howard. Harvey struck out four and walked one batter.
Phillies veteran left-hander and 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels outdueled Harvey and delivered seven innings of one-run ball with eight K's and two walks. Hamels scattered four hits.
"I don't think he threw badly by any means," Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki said of Harvey. "A couple of pitches got up in the zone, and they scored three runs but that's not a bad outing. We just didn't score enough for him against (Hamels, who) was dealing as well."
The Mets scored their lone run of the game in the fourth inning when Michael Cuddyer came home on a Hamels wild pitch.
New York had a modest two-game win streak stopped and lost for the sixth time in the previous nine tries. It will also visit the Chicago Cubs on this seven- game road trip.
Jon Niese gets the nod for the Mets Saturday and has a 2-2 mark with a 2.40 earned run average in five starts. Niese has dropped back-to-back trips to the mound and was touched for just one run in seven innings of a 1-0 loss to Washington last Saturday.
Niese defeated the Phillies on April 15 and hurled 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in a 6-1 triumph. The left-hander has made 20 career starts against Philadelphia and is 9-6 with a 2.92 ERA in that span.
The Phillies got their 10-game homestand off to a good start thanks to Hamels, Howard and Freddy Galvis, who recorded three hits and a run scored. Galvis is batting .351 on the season for Philadelphia, which won for the third time in the past 10 contests and was coming off a 3-7 road swing.
Howard has homered in back-to-back games and is batting .533 in his past four.
"He's really starting to look good and have good swings," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said about Howard.
Ken Giles threw a perfect eighth inning and closer Jonathan Papelbon worked around a hit and posted two K's in the ninth for his sixth save. Papelbon tied Jose Mesa for the most saves in franchise history with his 112th.
"It means a lot, actually," Papelbon said. "A lot of people might not think that, but it means a lot. It's really humbling to be at the top with Jose Mesa. I didn't necessarily come here to do this and break this milestone. I came here to hopefully win some championships. We're still trying to get to that realm. For me, it's very humbling to be atop this organization with all the history it has."
Papelbon is also Boston's all-time saves leader with 219.
Chase Utley returned to the Philadelphia lineup after sitting out the last two games of the road trip. The veteran second baseman went 0-for-4, dropping his batting average to .099.
The Phillies have Pittsburgh and Arizona slated to visit on this stay.
Drawing the start for the Phils Saturday will be Aaron Harang. He is 3-2 with a 2.35 earned run average in six starts and defeated his former Atlanta club in Monday's 5-2 victory, charged with only a run in six innings.
Harang has been Philadelphia's most consistent pitcher this season and lost to the Mets on April 13, when he gave up just one run in six innings of a 2-0 loss. In 14 career starts against the Mets, Harang is 6-6 with a 4.06 ERA.
Philadelphia was swept in three games by the Mets from April 13-15.