Phillies show Mets they mean business

Phillies show they mean business

NEW YORK -- Here they go again.

Leave it to the Phillies to storm back into National League East contention with three pronounced stomps on the neck of the team directly ahead of them.

A few days earlier, the Wild Card had seemed the only path to the postseason. While it still may be the quickest path, the Phillies have surged with their second straight sweep of their chief division rival. They completed this task with a 10-6 win at Shea Stadium on Sunday, shredding New York's division lead to 3 1/2 games.

"We have to keep going," manager Charlie Manuel said, gesticulating. "They have to keep coming this way and we have to keep going this way. We're going to meet somewhere along the line if we keep doing that. That's how I look at it."

Since Sunday's win counts the same, it's of lesser importance that it was largely given to the Phillies by virtue of a season-high six Mets errors. That sloppy play contributed to four unearned runs and the forfeiting of all momentum.

With two outs and the bases loaded in the second, Jose Reyes committed two errors on the same play when he booted Jimmy Rollins' grounder, then threw wildly to second, allowing two runs to score. Moises Alou dropped Rollins' fly ball to start the fourth, and Rollins ended up on third.

Rollins has been at the center of both series, after he proclaimed Philadelphia the team to beat in the offseason. It was no coincidence that he was at the heart of New York's issues.

"[Rollins] creates havoc," Greg Dobbs said. "He hits balls hard. He plays great defense. He makes things happen on the bases. He puts pressure on the other clubs because he can do so many things, and that's just a testament to how good a ballplayer he is."

Mets second baseman Luis Castillo wins the award for the biggest gaffe, as his sixth-inning mistake changed everything. Carlos Beltran punched the Phillies in the gut with a game-tying three-run homer in the fifth. Guillermo Mota then walked Pat Burrell to start the sixth.

A potential double-play grounder bad-hopped Castillo, and the second baseman made a bad situation worse by throwing low to David Wright, who was covering second base because of the shift. That left no one out and runners on first and second. Aaron Rowand and Jayson Werth walked, forcing in the go-ahead run.

Dobbs found a perfect pitch and smacked a pinch-hit grand slam that just curled around the right-field foul pole.


"That's the most gratifying, that I was able to give us the lead. That's very special, and I feel very fortunate to be able to do that in this arena, especially at this time, with how much we've been battling."
-- Greg Dobbs

"Off the bat, it was fair, so I just started running," Dobbs said. "I didn't lean. I'm not standing there waving [a la Carlton Fisk]. I'm gone. If it stays fair, it stays fair. If it goes foul, I'm going right back to the plate and trying to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish. It started hooking a bit, but it still cleared it by four or five feet."

He paused, reflecting on what he called the biggest hit of his career.

"Thankfully."

As is often the case in these matters, Dobbs said he didn't remember touching any of the bases.

"You're just floating on air," he said. "You're happy to be able to do something to put your club ahead. That's the most gratifying, that I was able to give us the lead. That's very special, and I feel very fortunate to be able to do that in this arena, especially at this time, with how much we've been battling."

In running their winning streak against the Mets to eight, the Phillies had to leave their rivals with an uneasy feeling heading into the season's final 13 games, and not so much that New York might blow the division lead. But who has the edge should these teams meet again -- say, in the NLCS?

Perhaps that's skipping ahead too much. Still, there's no denying that the Mets have saved the Phillies' season. The Phillies are 13-7 since Aug. 27 -- 7-0 against the Mets and 6-7 against everyone else.

"This series, the Phillies were a good team, bottom line," Rollins said. "[The Mets] made more mistakes and we were able to take advantage. That was the difference."

Here they go again.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.