When is the appropriate time to start an MVP campaign?
Whenever the time is, Raul Ibanez will surely be a frontrunner. Thursday night Ibanez willed the Phillies to a second-straight victory in extra innings against the Mets. His three-run home run in the 10th inning gave the Phillies a comfortable three-run lead, and Ryan Madson picked up his second save in two nights as the team's closer.
Jamie Moyer gave the Phillies a solid start, as his outing seemed like a record that was skipping. Luis Castillo lead off the game with a double and advanced to third on an Alex Cora sacrifice bunt. Carlos Beltran then brought him home to give the Mets a quick and efficient 1-0 lead.
Castillo hit a single in the third inning, moved to second on a Cora sacrifice bunt, and Beltran knocked him in.
Then in the fifth inning, Castillo hit a lead off double, advanced to third on a Cora ground out, and Beltran knocked in Castillo for his third RBI of the night. Fortunately for the Phillies, the rest of the Mets' offense was non-productive the entire night.
Moyer went six innings and allowed just the three runs by Castillo on eight hits. He struck out three batters and walked none. Clay Condrey pitched two rock-solid innings of relief in the seventh and eighth innings. Chad Durbin and Scott Eyre teamed up for a lock-down ninth inning, and Madson piked up the save in the 10th.
For the night, the Phillies were just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, with Ibanez's homer being the lone hit. Jimmy Rollins, though, hit a sacrifice fly in the third inning to score Pedro Feliz. A Chase Utley double in the fifth inning scored Rollins from first base, bringing the Phillies to within one run of the Mets, who had a 3-1 lead. Matt Stairs hit a ground-ball out in the seventh inning, which scored Feliz to tie the game in the seventh inning.
Last night was Eyre's 600th career game. He was credited with the win.
The Phillies are now four games in front in the NL East on a night when they beat the Mets and the Braves lost as well. On the road this year, the Phillies are a remarkable 23-9. No other team in baseball has more than 19 wins on the road.