Phils Come Back In Ninth To Beat Mets 6-5

Once again, the scenario of Jose Mesa blowing a lead for the Phillies reared its ugly head, but the Phillies would have nothing to do with that. Mesa surrendered a one run lead in the ninth, but the Phillies came right back with a run in the bottom of the inning to beat the Mets 6-5 Thursday night at Veterans Stadium. The win kept pace with the Florida Marlins who beat Pittsburgh to stay tied with the Phillies at the top of the NL wild card standings.

While Jose Mesa failed again in his quest for the 250th save of his career, the Philadelphia Phillies managed to overcome the reliever's latest implosion.

Mike Lieberthal's RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Phillies their fourth straight win over the New York Mets, 6-5, and maintained a share of the National League wild card lead.

Mesa, who took the loss Monday after squandering a two-run ninth-inning lead against Boston, wasted little time in this one. The Phillies' all-time saves leader served up the first homerun of Prentice Redman's major league career leading off the ninth, erasing a 5-4 advantage. After striking out pinch hitter Joe McEwing, Mesa allowed a single off the right field wall to Timo Perez and quickly was lifted. Phillies manager Larry Bowa, who is running out of options to preserve ninth-inning leads, brought in newly acquired Valerio De Los Santos (4-3), who retired both batters he faced.

"I think I owe it to Jose and (pitching coach) Joe Kerrigan," Bowa said of continuing to give Mesa chances. "We're gonna talk tomorrow and we're gonna make a decision tomorrow. I haven't run out of patience with anybody. I think a guy that's been in the league this long, I owe that to him."

The Mets, who have bullpen issues of their own, immediately got in trouble in the bottom of the inning. Mike Stanton (2-6) issued a leadoff walk to Marlon Byrd, who advanced on a sacrifice by Jimmy Rollins. After Bobby Abreu struck out, David Weathers surrendered a single to left-center to Lieberthal, plating Byrd without a throw from Perez.

"He's always thrown me sliders and sinkers," Lieberthal said. "He came in with a fastball. I don't know if it was a two-seamer, but whatever it was, it was pretty straight. I don't think he got it in enough."

Rollins and Jason Michaels homered for Philadelphia, which won for the sixth time in seven games and remained even with Florida atop the NL wild card standings. Rollins connected for a three-run shot in the fifth and Michaels offered up a pinch-hit homerun in the seventh.

New York got to Phillies starter Randy Wolf for an unearned run in the first inning. Roger Cedeno led off the game with a walk and stole second. Rookie Danny Garcia followed with a grounder off shortstop Rollins' glove and into center field, allowing Cedeno to score for a 1-0 lead.

"Errors by Jimmy are (rare)," said Wolf, who allowed three runs - two earned - and four hits in seven innings. "You think every ball in his area should be fielded, but that was a tough play. He's saved me more than enough runs."

The Phillies threatened in the bottom of the inning when Byrd opened with a double and moved up on a sacrifice, but was gunned down at the plate when Abreu hit a grounder to shortstop with the infield in. Lieberthal followed with a single to right, but Jim Thome grounded out to end the inning.

Jorge Velandia gave the Mets a two-run lead in the fifth with a sacrifice fly that scored Raul Gonzalez, who led off with a double and was sacrificed to third.

With one out in the bottom of the inning, Nick Punto and Wolf hit back-to-back doubles to draw Philadelphia within a run. After walking Byrd, Glavine watched his first pitch to Rollins sail over the left field wall, giving the Phillies a 4-2 cushion.

"I was actually really surprised (Mets starter Tom Glavine) threw me a fastball," said Wolf, who had an RBI single against the veteran lefthander on Saturday. "He abused me last time with sliders. I was looking for a fastball, just in case he threw it. It does feel good when you can drive in a run."

"Jimmy's pretty strong for a little guy," Bowa said. "When he understands that he can hit home runs hitting line drives ... right now, he's a real good player. He can be one of the best."

Gonzalez and Velandia combined to cut the Mets' deficit to a run in the seventh. After a leadoff double, Gonzalez took third on a flyout by Redman and scored on Velandia's single to left.

Veteran lefthander John Franco, who is 20 games shy of fifth place on the all-time list, started the bottom half and allowed a home run to pinch hitter Michaels. It was the outfielder's third career homer in a pinch-hitting role and second this season.

New York got within 5-4 in the eighth, thanks to a miscue by Thome. Celebrating his 35th birthday, Mike Piazza stroked a one-out double off lefthander Rheal Cormier and moved to third on a groundout. Ty Wigginton followed with an apparent inning-ending grounder, but Thome was unable to handle the throw from third baseman Tomas Perez as Piazza scored.

The series continues Friday night when Vicente Padilla (12-9, 3.79) faces Jae Seo (8-9, 4.25).

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