Duck-unworthy In Phillies 8-6 Loss To New Yorkers

You just knew this was going to happen. The Mets were coming off an embarrassing series sweep in Atlanta and the Phillies seemed to be putting it all together. In come the Mets and beat the Phillies 8-6 in another bad outing for Brandon Duckworth who is suddenly raising a few red flags about the fifth spot in the Phillies rotation. Duckworth hasn't won since May and his ERA is now at 5.28 on the season.

After pounding rookie Aaron Heilman (1-2) last week at Shea Stadium, the rookie got some revenge by notching his first major league win against the Phillies at The Vet Monday night. It didn't hurt that Brandon Duckworth (3-4) struggled early on again and lasted just 2 2/3 innings, allowing five earned runs.

Heilman labored through five innings and 42-year-old John Franco recorded his first save in more than two years as the Mets snapped a four-game losing skid with an 8-6 win over the Phils.

Heilman, a first-round pick in 2001, struggled to get through five innings, giving up four runs and seven hits. The right-hander walked three and struck out four while throwing 108 pitches.

"Feels great to get my first win," Heilman said. "I had a lot of help today, some great defensive plays, and we came out swinging the bats well. We put some runs on the board and put some pressure on them."

The Mets have been without a true closer since trading Armando Benitez to the Yankees. Franco's last save same more than two years ago on June 19, 2001 - two weeks after Heilman was drafted. Just as with Heilman, Franco's save wasn't automatic as he gave up a walk, an RBI double to Bobby Abreu and a deep flyout by Mike Lieberthal before getting pinch hitter Jason Michaels to bounce into a game-ending fielder's choice.

"I obviously made things interesting in the ninth inning, but we got the outs when we needed it," Franco said. It was Franco's 423rd career save, extending his major league record for for a lefty and putting him within 55 of Lee Smith's all-time mark.

Cliff Floyd, Joe McEwing and Jason Phillips homered for the Mets, who won for just the second time in 12 games.

Duckworth hasn't won in almost two months and allowed five runs and six hits against the Mets. "It wasn't a good night, it was an embarrassing night," Duckworth admitted. "I didn't do my job. ... I'm not gonna point to mechanics. I'm gonna keep working as hard as I can."

"I think he's had about 18 innings this month," Phillies pitching coach Joe Kerrigan said. "He's a young pitcher that needs a lot of (work) right now. He's gonna have to earn his keep."

Jim Thome belted his 25th homer and Abreu drove in four runs for Philadelphia, which had won eight of its previous 10 games.

The Mets jumped on Duckworth immediately, grabbing a 3-0 lead in the first inning. With one on and one out, Phillips stroked a single to center field and Floyd launched a 3-1 offering over the right field wall for his 16th homer.

Abreu's two-run single in the bottom of the inning cut the Phillies' deficit to 3-2, but McEwing led off the second with his first homerun in over a year. The Mets increased their lead on Vance Wilson's RBI fielder's choice in the third and Raul Gonzalez' RBI single in the fifth before Thome swatted Heilman's 1-2 offering in the bottom of the fifth over the left field wall to draw Philadelphia within 6-4. The Phillies threatened for more, but the Mets avoided a huge inning by getting Tyler Houston to bounce into a double play. With runners at the corners, Houston grounded to first base. Phillips fielded the ball and stepped on the bag before firing home. Lieberthal was thrown out trying to return to third base.

"I knew that if I had to touch first and get the guy in a rundown, the guy was going to score," Phillips explained. "So I figured it was an easier throw to throw it home anyway, as my momentum was going that way. It just worked out that he hit it right to the bag and as I caught it, I was stepping on first. Just had to play catch after that."

Phillips answered with a two-run shot in the sixth, but Abreu kept the Phillies in the game with an RBI single in the seventh and a one-out run-scoring double in the ninth. Lieberthal flied out to the warning track in right to move Abreu to third and Pat Burrell drew a four-pitch walk to put the tying run on base. But while hitting for Houston, Michaels bounced a 2-0 pitch to third to end the threat.

"We dug a hole for ourselves, almost came back," Philadelphia manager Larry Bowa said. "We battled hard for nine innings, we just came up a little bit short."

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