PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Maybe these Mets are for real.
Rod Barajas homered twice, Jonathon Niese pitched seven impressive innings and New York routed the Philadelphia Phillies 9-1 on Friday night for its eighth straight victory.
David Wright and Jeff Francoeur also homered for the surprising Mets, riding their longest winning streak since a 10-game run in July 2008. New York ended April 14-9, with a one-game lead in the NL East.
``We fed off each other,' Francoeur said. ``The first (seven hits) were extra-base hits, and we were kidding around saying, 'The first person who hits a single, we were going to fine 50 bucks.''
That turned out to be Jose Reyes, who hit an RBI single to cap a four-run seventh that broke the game open. Coming off a 9-1 homestand that carried them from last place to first, the Mets dominated their initial meeting this season with the rival Phillies, winners of two consecutive pennants and three straight division titles.
``I'm concerned about our team,' Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. ``We just played a bad game pitching-wise and hitting-wise. We're not playing good at all. We haven't played good for a while.'
With the Phillies already down big in the ninth, Brad Lidge was hit hard in his first outing of the year.
``We kept tacking on runs,' Francoeur said. ``Against Philly, the last thing you want to do is stop at four. That was a big win for us. We know who we're facing (Saturday). That's going to be a tough challenge for us.'
On the mound Saturday is Phillies ace Roy Halladay, a newcomer to the rivalry - and one of baseball's best pitchers. He'll face New York right-hander Mike Pelfrey, who began the day leading the majors with a 0.69 ERA. His 24-inning scoreless streak is the longest in the big leagues.
Francoeur came out in the seventh with a bruised left elbow, soon after he was hit by a pitch from Danys Baez. In the eighth, Mets rookie Jenrry Mejia plunked Chase Utley on the leg.
Niese (1-1) shut down Philadelphia's powerful lineup, allowing one run and four hits for his third major league win and first since July 25, 2009, at Houston. He matched a career high with seven strikeouts.
The left-hander yielded Carlos Ruiz's RBI single in the second, then retired 14 straight until Jayson Werth's single leading off the seventh. He was helped by two tough catches at the outfield fence, one by Francoeur in right for the first out of the second and the next an inning-ending grab by left fielder Jason Bay on Shane Victorino's drive.
``Those plays really helped me out,' Niese said. ``I was able to settle down and hit my spots after that.'
Wright and Francoeur connected during a three-run second inning against Kyle Kendrick (0-1). Jason Bay doubled leading off and scored on Wright's homer to straightaway center. It was Wright's 12th homer at Citizens Bank Park, more than any other active visiting player, and 20th overall against the Phillies.
Francoeur added a solo shot two batters later. Barajas, who drove in three runs, homered leading off the fifth and continued to torment his former team. Since his one unpopular season in Philadelphia in 2007, Barajas is 12 for 21 with six homers, three doubles and 13 RBIs against the Phillies.
``The fans in Philadelphia have long memories,' Barajas said. ``I hear the boos, but I'm not part of that team anymore. When you're part of the team, it's discouraging. When you're the visitor, it doesn't matter.'
It was Barajas' ninth career multihomer game and second this season. He also homered twice on April 9 against Washington.
Barajas' second homer came off Lidge, who was making his 2010 debut after missing the first month of the season following operations on his right knee and right elbow. The closer gave up sharp hits to two of his three batters in the ninth, managing only one out on a liner to right.
New York scored four runs in the seventh off Baez, who walked Niese during the rally. Barajas hit an RBI double, Angel Pagan had a two-run triple and Reyes singled home another run.
Pagan finished with three hits, including a double. Barajas also scored three times from the No. 8 spot in the batting order.
The Mets have won only three of their last 14 games against Philadelphia, and two of nine at Citizens Bank Park. But this was an encouraging sign for New York, which coughed up late division leads to the Phillies in 2007 and 2008, then slumped to 70-92 during an injury-ravaged 2009 season.
``We know we're not going to run off 30, 40 wins,' Barajas said. ``We had a good combination of pitching, hitting and offense and we have to keep that going.'
NOTES: It was Niese's first appearance against the Phillies. ... Francoeur remained in the game after he was hit by Baez's pitch, then was replaced in right in the bottom of the seventh by Gary Matthews Jr.
The Associated Press News Service
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