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Mets win 8th straight behind Wright's three-run homer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The New York Mets sent a clear message to
the Philadelphia Phillies: Start thinking wild card.

David Wright hit a three-run homer and the Mets won their eighth
straight game, getting off to another fast start to beat the fading
Phillies 5-4 Thursday.

Steve Trachsel pitched six effective innings and the NL
East-leading Mets (42-23) extended their lead to 9½ games over
second-place Philadelphia by completing a three-game sweep. They
finished 9-1 on their road trip against the Los Angeles Dodgers,
Arizona Diamondbacks and Phillies.

New York set a major league record by winning its eighth
consecutive game on the road when scoring in the first inning. The
1939 Yankees did it seven consecutive games. The Mets' streak of
eight straight games scoring in the first is a team record, and the
eight consecutive wins are their most during any road trip.

"If you would've told me in spring training that we'd have a
9½-game lead at this time of year, it would've been a good dream,"
general manager Omar Minaya said. "But there's a lot of baseball
left. You sleep a little better 9½ games up. You give yourself a
cushion."

Pat Burrell hit a pair of homers for the Phillies, who fell to
33-33 with their sixth loss in seven games.

The Mets appear poised to run away with the division title and
end Atlanta's unprecedented string of 14 straight division
championships. The Braves began the day 12 games behind.

Trachsel (4-4) allowed four runs and six hits in six innings.
Aaron Heilman and Duaner Sanchez followed with perfect innings, and
Billy Wagner finished for his 14th save in 17 chances.

The Phillies came into the series hoping to narrow the gap in
the standings. Instead, they lost the first two games and fell
behind 4-0 in the first inning of this one. A showdown for first
place turned into a showcase for the Mets.

"We just have to keep going," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel
said. "There's a lot of games left, but when you get 10-12 games
back, it can be hard."

Jose Reyes led off against Cory Lidle (4-6) with a single and
scored on Endy Chavez's double to left-center. Carlos Delgado
walked with one out and Wright followed with his 14th homer to make
it 4-0.

Wright's shot landed in the flower bed just over the left-field
wall, giving him homers in three straight games and extending his
hitting streak to nine games. Wright is batting .395 (15-for-38)
with four homers and 12 RBI during that stretch.

"To be able to take four in a row in Arizona and three straight
here shows that we're not settling," Wright said. "We didn't
settle for taking two out of three. That says a lot about a team.
It shows we're hungry."

Burrell homered leading off Philadelphia's second, and Sal
Fasano's two-out double scored Ryan Howard to cut it to 4-2.

Reyes led off the fifth with a double, moved to third on a
sacrifice by Chavez and scored on Carlos Beltran's sacrifice fly to
make it 5-2.

The Phillies closed to 5-4 on Burrell's two-run drive in the
fifth. With two outs, Bobby Abreu extended his hitting streak to 14
games with a single. Burrell then drove a 3-2 pitch into the seats
in left-center for his 18th homer and 35th against the Mets.

But the Phillies didn't get a runner on the rest of the game,
with 13 batters in a row going down.

"Our bullpen did a tremendous job," Mets manager Willie
Randolph said.

A sellout crowd of 45,102 was the largest of the season and
second-biggest in the three-year history of Citizens Bank Park. It
included thousands of Mets fans who cheered loudly for their team.
Philly fans finally drowned out chants of "Let's Go Mets!" with
the familiar chant of "E-A-G-L-E-S!"

If the Phillies continue their losing ways, they'll have plenty
of empty seats when the Eagles begin training camp next month.

"We're good enough to be in every game, but bad enough not to
win," Lidle said.

Lidle left after Ramon Castro singled leading off the seventh.
The right-hander allowed five runs and six hits in six innings.
Frustrated with his performance, he threw his glove against the
dugout wall as he walked off the field.

Game notes
There was a 25-minute rain delay in the middle of the third
inning. ... Chavez made a diving catch on a sinking liner to right
field by Aaron Rowand to end the third inning with two runners on.
... A notoriously slow worker, Trachsel delayed the start of the
game when he trotted in from the bullpen with his catcher just
before the first pitch. ... Beltran has a hit and RBI in eight
straight games. ... Burrell has 13 multihomer games. ... Country
singer Tim McGraw, son of former Phillies and Mets reliever Tug
McGraw, threw out the first pitch. ... The largest crowd at
Citizens Bank Park was 45,449 for a game against the Mets last June
23.