Phils hope to get untracked in opener with Mets

The Philadelphia Phillies have been nothing more than ordinary lately, but the same can't be said for starting pitcher Cliff Lee.

Lee gets the nod tonight for the Phillies in the opener of a three-game series versus the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park and is 4-0 with a 1.71 earned run average in his last four starts. He has won 11 of his last 14 decisions, including Wednesday's 9-2 triumph versus Arizona.

The left-hander allowed two runs and three hits with seven strikeouts over seven innings to push his record to 13-7 with a 2.82 ERA in 25 starts. Lee is 9-2 in 14 starts at home and will face the Mets for the third time in his career. He is 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA in two career starts and threw seven innings of one-run ball against New York in a 2-1 loss on May 1 for a no-decision.

Philadelphia is 4-4 in its last eight games and saw its lead atop the National League East standings shrink to 6 1/2 games ahead of Atlanta after Sunday's tough 5-4 loss in 10 innings at Washington. Antonio Bastardo allowed a game- tying home run to Ian Desmond in the ninth inning and Brad Lidge hit Jonny Gomes with the bases loaded in the 10th, forcing home Ryan Zimmerman.

"During a 162-game schedule you're going to give up [the lead] every now and then. You don't want to see it, but at the same time that's part of it," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

Carlos Ruiz hit a two-run homer and Chase Utley added a solo shot for the Phillies. Roy Halladay pitched the first five innings and gave up two runs and seven hits with five K's and no walks. Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins left Sunday's game in the third inning with a right groin strain and is listed as day-to-day. Wilson Valdez will most likely start in Rollins' place at shortstop tonight if he is unable to go. Rollins will undergo an MRI Monday.

Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco could be activated off of the disabled list prior to tonight's game. Polanco has been sidelined with a sports hernia and received a cortisone shot last week.

New York was swept in three games by Milwaukee and has dropped nine of its last 11 contests. In Sunday's 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Brewers at Citi Field, R.A. Dickey had a solid start go to waste and hurled seven innings of two-run ball in a no-decision.

Dickey struck out four and did not walk a batter, but Manny Acosta allowed the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to suffer the loss. Jason Isringhausen and Pedro Beato both gave up a run in relief to fuel Milwaukee's rally.

"I have great confidence in my players and think they can get the job done," said Mets manager Terry Collins. "Obviously I was wrong, we can't stop anybody. I should have stayed with Dickey and tried to keep the game tied. I thought we'd try to play the win there and we just can't stop anybody."

Mets center fielder Angel Pagan went 2-for-4 and has reached base safely in 17 straight games. Lucas Duda hit a two-run homer for the Mets. Jose Reyes is nearing his return to the field and is expected to begin playing rehab games by the end of the week. Reyes has been out since Aug. 7 with a strained left hamstring,

"I don't want to be on the field too soon if I'm not ready," Reyes said on the club's site. "If I'm not 100 percent, I feel like I can play, I'm going to be on the field. Hamstrings are very tricky. One day you feel good, and the next day you try to run and you blow the hamstring out."

Dillon Gee draws the start for New York tonight in south Philly and he's 11-4 with a 3.92 earned run average in 23 games (20 starts). He has three of his previous four decisions and defeated San Diego on the road his last time out on Wednesday at Petco Park. Gee held the Padres to a run and five hits in 6 2/3 innings, while striking out five and walking four.

Gee pitched 1 2/3 innings of relief against the Phillies in a 10-3 loss at Citizens Bank Park and gave up four runs. He is 1-0 with a 6.23 ERA in two games (1 start) in this matchup.

Philadelphia has won eight of 12 meetings with New York this season. The Mets are 5-13 this month, while the Phils are 44-20 as the host.