Oliver Perez: big game pitcher? I think so.
The Mets' southpaw continued his dominance of the Phillies on Thursday afternoon in a game that would decide the leader of the NL East. Perez went 7.2 innings allowing just six hits, and the only Phillies run came on a Jayson Werth solo homer. Walks have been Perez's weakness this year; however, today he walked just one batter and it was an intentional walk to Pat Burrell.
Perez struggled a bit in the eighth and was removed by Jerry Manuel with two outs, the bases loaded and the game tied at one. Aaron Heilman got Jayson Werth to fly out to end the threat.
Perez struck out twelve Phillies, including stars Chase Utley and Ryan Howard three times each. Perez now has a 0.44 ERA in three starts against Philadelphia this season.
Unfortunately for Oliver, the Mets didn't do much scoring of their own until he left the game and he was stuck with a no-decision.
Jamie Moyer pitched well for the Phillies allowing just one run in seven innings of work. The run came in the third inning when David Wright hit a single to left to drive in Jose Reyes and collect his team-leading 78th RBI of the season.
The key inning in the game was the eighth. The Phillies chased Perez from the game and loaded the bases, but couldn't come up with a hit off reliever Aaron Heilman. Heilman has a nice 2.55 ERA since June 1.
Phillies reliever J.C. Romero, who had been particularly effective against the Mets (2.25 career ERA vs. NYM), was brought on to pitch the bottom half of the eighth.
The Mets' third catcher, Robinson Cancel, came up with a pinch hit single. Jose Reyes then laid down a sacrifice bunt to get the tying run into scoring position. After Endy Chavez lined out back to Romero, David Wright was intentionally walked.
Like he has for the last month, Carlos Delgado came through again for the Mets. He lined a double into the left field corner and both Cancel and Wright scored. The Mets' dugout erupted with excitement as Wright pumped his fist after sliding home.
Delgado is hitting .397 with five homers and 15 RBI in the month of July.
Billy Wagner came on in the ninth and picked up the save for the second straight game to send the Mets into sole possession of first place in the NL East.
These last two wins have been huge for the Mets after Tuesday night's meltdown in the ninth inning. A series win at home this weekend against the Cardinals is mandatory to keep moving in the right direction.
The Phillies will head home to take on the division rival Braves. Tomorrow, Kyle Kendrick (8-4, 4.87 ERA) will face Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens (9-5, 3.22).
The Cardinals come to Shea to face the Mets in a battle of NL playoff contenders. Mike Pelfrey (8-6, 3.81) will take the hill for the Mets. The 6'7" Pelfrey baffled the Redbirds earlier this year when he allowed just one run in seven innings. Pelfrey is 6-0 with a 2.70 ERA in ten starts dating back to June 5.
St. Louis will send out rookie Mitchell Boggs (3-1, 6.59). In the same game that Pelfrey pitched well, Boggs was hammered by the Mets to the tune of 11 runs in six innings.
Player of the Game: Oliver Perez: 7.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 K's