PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies could have used a little help on Thursday night from the Cubs, who were playing the Mets and in a position to help Philadelphia extend its National League East lead.
The Cubs had priorities of their own. Having already clinched the NL Central, Chicago manager Lou Piniella opted to give most of his starters Thursday off.
The Cubs lost to the Mets, 7-6, which allowed New York to pick up a half-game on first-place Philadelphia in the NL East entering Friday.
However, don't expect to see anyone in the Phillies' clubhouse pointing any angry fingers at the Cubs.
"You've got to play the game and play it the way you think it should be played," pitcher Jamie Moyer said. "They're preparing for the playoffs. They're going to have to live with whatever happens -- whatever lineup they choose, whatever pitcher they throw out there, how they choose to use their bullpen."
Most of Chicago's regulars got a chance to catch their breath Thursday, but their backups filled in well. Micah Hoffpauir, starting for Derrek Lee at first base, collected five hits and five RBIs. Felix Pie, filling in for Alfonso Soriano in left field, notched a hit and scored a run. It was Chicago's bullpen, relinquishing an eighth-inning lead, that led to New York's victory.
Whether or not to rest starters in preparation for the playoffs is an age-old question for teams that lock up their spots early. Moyer played for playoff-bound Seattle teams managed by Piniella, and has seen the negative side of starters getting too much rest before the postseason.
"I was with him one year back when we clinched -- I want to say it was in early September," Moyer said. "Guys got a couple days off, we worked them back in the lineup and boy, were we flat.
"He's got enough experience with this. He doesn't need to be told what to do or how to do his job. He's going to do what he feels he needs to do."
Phils manager Charlie Manuel watched Thursday night's game between the Cubs and Mets and said he understood Piniella's wanting to set the Cubs up for the postseason.
"You have to take care of your club," Manuel said. "You have to do what you think is best for your team."
Kevin Horan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.