While the latest setback didn't contain the errors that marred the first two losses of the series, it was still a loss. It followed a similar script, with the Mets taking a first-inning lead -- something they've done in each of their eight straight wins.
Thursday's victim was starter Cory Lidle, who spotted New York four runs. The big blow came from emerging enemy David Wright, who cracked a three-run homer, his third in as many games. It scored Endy Chavez and Carlos Delgado.
"One bad pitch," Lidle said. "If I didn't miss my spot on that changeup ... I feel like it was a good pitch selection, but bad execution."
Chavez had doubled in Jose Reyes, who punished the Phillies with an 8-for-13 performance in the series and scored six of New York's 23 runs. Overall, he's hitting .263, but has hit .349 against the Phillies this season with 11 runs scored.
In being outscored, 23-14, in the three games, Philadelphia led in only two of the 27 innings.
Not even Sir Pat Burrell and his mighty sword could slay the fire-breathing Mets, who won their NL-leading 17th one-run game. The Phillies fell to 8-13 in such contests, and are at .500 for the first time since May 27. Their high-water mark was May 14, when they were 21-15.
Despite a pair of homers by Burrell, the noted Mets killer -- giving him 35 against the club to tie Chipper Jones for second among active players behind Barry Bonds -- the Phillies dropped 9 1/2 games behind the Mets in the NL East. Burrell took Steve Trachsel deep in the second and fifth innings; the first one pulled the Phils within two runs, and the second pulled them within one.
"Everybody is frustrated because we have virtually the same guys that we had last year," Burrell said. "We're just not playing up to the level we're capable of. We ran into a pretty good team with these guys. You have to give some credit to the way they're playing. They're hot."
Lidle (4-6) settled down to allow one run over the next five innings, and lasted at least six innings for the 12th time in his 14 starts, or as manager Charlie Manuel called it, "a Lidle game." Still, his early struggles made it irrelevant.
Once the Phillies got close, the Mets pushed them away, retiring the final 13 batters after Burrell's second homer. Mets closer Billy Wagner saved his third game against the Phillies by striking out Fasano.
Fasano bristled at the notion that these three losses to the Mets were demoralizing.
"I don't think demoralizing is a good word," he said. "In baseball, there's a reason why we have runs, hits and errors. Physical errors you never get upset about. You try not to make the mental errors. That's what beats you. Just coming and playing a division rival and getting swept at home. That's the frustrating part."
Frustrated was the operative postgame word in the clubhouse, just ahead of a few unprintable ones.
"We haven't been playing good baseball," Lidle said. "If we want to be there at the end, we have to kick ourselves in the butt."
Manuel figures some emotion might help the Phillies.
"I don't mind seeing guys get ticked off and mad," Manuel said. "That's a sign that they care and they're getting ready to fight. That's OK with me. I'm seeing it start to boil over."