PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Charlie Manuel has juggled the lineup, started bench players and tried everything he can to get a sluggish offense going.
It hasn't worked.
Philadelphia managed just six hits in a 5-0 loss to the New York Mets on Saturday, dropping to 3-5 on the season. The Phillies, who have won five consecutive NL East titles, are struggling without All-Stars Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the middle of their lineup, scoring two runs or less in five of their eight games.
``We're eight games in, it doesn't faze me at all,' Manuel said. ``I hate to use the word `early' because I come to the ballpark every day and I want to win, but there's no sense in panicking. We're going to score runs, we're going to compete, we're going to hold the fort until our guys get back.'
Mets starter Jonathon Niese (2-0) allowed five hits and struck out five in 6 2-3 innings. Bobby Parnell got four outs and Jon Rauch pitched the ninth.
David Wright was 3 for 5, including a long homer on the first pitch he saw after missing three games with a broken right pinkie. Lucas Duda also connected for the Mets, who are off to a surprising 6-2 start.
``I felt good,' Wright said. ``I got a little confidence after the first at-bat. I felt real good in the cage earlier today. I wouldn't have gone out there if I didn't think I can contribute.'
Phillies starter Vance Worley (0-1) allowed four runs and eight hits in six innings.
Wright hurt his finger diving back to a base Monday night. He finally felt well enough to return on Saturday, and made an impact right away.
``When a guy like David Wright goes out and plays with a broken finger, the other guys don't hurt as bad,' Mets manager Terry Collins said. ``His presence in our lineup means a lot.'
Worley retired the first two batters before Wright drove one out to almost straightaway center to give the Mets the lead in the first.
With the way the Phillies are hitting, that's an insurmountable deficit.
``You can't be worried about that,' Worley said. ``It's up to the guys we have in the lineup to put the ball in play and make things happen. You can't rely on one swing.'
The Mets tacked on three runs in the fourth. They loaded the bases with no outs on a walk and singles by Wright and Ike Davis, who was 1 for 24 to that point. One run scored when Jason Bay grounded into a double play. Duda then ripped a two-run shot to right, snapping an 0-for-15 slump with his third homer.
Mets center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis robbed Brian Schneider of extra bases and an RBI with a sensational running catch on a drive to the warning track to end the second inning.
The crowd of 45,750 was the 225th straight sellout at Citizens Bank Park, including postseason play. There were blue-shirted Mets fans mixed in, of course. The loudest cheers from home fans came when a New York fan was ejected from the ballpark in the ninth.
NOTES: Manuel was honored before the game for being the winningest manager in franchise history. Manuel moved into first place on the team's list with his 646th victory on the final day of the regular season last year. ... Schneider caught Worley for the 13th consecutive start. The last time Worley didn't pitch to Schneider was last July 15 at Citi Field. ...LHP Cole Hamels (0-1) goes for the Phillies against RHP Mike Pelfrey in the series finale Sunday. Hamels is 3-10 with a 4.46 ERA in 17 career starts vs. the Mets. Pelfrey is 7-7 with a 5.37 ERA in 19 starts against the Phillies.
The Associated Press News Service
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