WHAT IT MEANS: New York Mets left-hander Jon Niese was outdueled by Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay, and the Mets dropped their third game in a row, losing 2-1 to the Phillies on Saturday afternoon in front of the 136th consecutive sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park.
Niese (1-4, 4.71 ERA) gave up just two earned runs over 6 1/3 innings, but Halladay (4-1, 2.14) was better. Halladay -- who wound up throwing a complete game (the 60th of his career) while giving up just one run on seven hits (all singles) and striking out eight -- has now beaten the Mets in his last seven starts dating back to the 2006 season.
The Mets (11-16) now trail the Phillies (18-8) by 7½ games in the National League East and are eight back in the loss column.
NIESE, VERY NIESE: Niese had his fastball/breaking ball combination working all afternoon, while mixing in the occasional cutter to keep the Phillies’ bats honest. At one point, he retired 11 in a row -- seven coming via the groundout. The 23-year-old gave up just four hits over his first six innings of work, but finally ran into trouble in the seventh. He hung a 3-2 curveball that John Mayberry Jr. mashed into the left field bleachers, ending the shutout bid and tying the score. Niese he allowed a single to second baseman Wilson Valdez, walked catcher Dane Sardinha and struck out Halladay before being lifted by manager Terry Collins with one out in the seventh. Valdez eventually came around to score on third baseman Placido Polanco's sacrifice fly.
ATTACKING THE ZONE: Halladay began his afternoon by throwing 18 consecutive strikes, the most since Sid Fernandez also threw 18 in a row on Aug. 16, 1991. Halladay threw his first ball to shortstop Jose Reyes in an 0-1 count with two outs in the third. Halladay wound up throwing 106 pitches -- a whopping 80 for strikes.
STRIKING FIRST: After Halladay retired the first nine Mets in order, second baseman David Murphy, third baseman David Wright and center field Carlos Beltran hit back-to-back-to-back singles to give the Amazin's a 1-0 lead in the top half of the fourth.
The 34-year-old Beltran, who delivered the game's first RBI and went 2-for-4 at the plate has now had at least one hit in 10 of his last 12 games. The 14-year veteran started his third day game after night game this season.
HOWARD WHO? A day after torching the Mets for two home runs and six RBI, Ryan Howard went 0-for-4 at the plate. The hefty slugger had a chance to do some major damage with two on and one out in the sixth, but he flew out to center.
STREAK OVER: First baseman Ike Davis's career-high 11-game hitting streak came to an end after he went 0-for-4 on Saturday afternoon.
WHAT’S NEXT: Mets right-hander Chris Young (1-0, 2.65 ERA) opposes Phillies left-handed ace Cliff Lee (2-2, 4.18) in ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball game of the week (8 p.m.).