NL East deficit at one game as Phillies beat Mets in first game of doubleheader

NEW YORK -- Here comes Philadelphia again, beating the New York Mets when it matters most.

Jamie Moyer shut down the suddenly slumping Mets on two soft singles and Greg Dobbs hit a three-run homer off Pedro Martinez, helping the Phillies trim their NL East deficit to one game with a 6-2 victory in the opener of a day-night doubleheader Sunday.

"We gained some ground, but we have another game tonight and that's the most important game of our season," Moyer said. "If we take care of our own business we'll be OK."

Even between games, the Mets got bad news: Injured closer Billy Wagner felt pain in his ailing elbow while throwing to a hitter in a virtually empty stadium. He'll be re-examined by a doctor Monday and his return appears uncertain.

Facing the first-place Mets for the sixth time this season, the 45-year-old Moyer allowed only a surprise bunt single by Robinson Cancel and an infield hit by Damion Easley over seven shutout innings.

New York was scoreless for 16 innings in the series before breaking through for two runs in the eighth against Scott Eyre, but it came too late.

"We seem to have picked a bad time not to be swinging the bats well, especially at home," manager Jerry Manuel said.

Looking to leave town tied for first place, the Phillies send Cole Hamels to the mound in the 8:05 p.m. nightcap. Johan Santana gets the ball for the Mets in a pressure-packed matchup of left-handed aces.

Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel wants to make sure his team stays focused, too. After the first game, he posted a sign in the clubhouse that read: "No football on any TV after 7:15."

The Phillies swept a three-game series at Shea Stadium last September, beginning their charge past the collapsing Mets to win the division title. The onus is on Santana, acquired from Minnesota last offseason and signed to a $137.5 million, six-year contract, to prevent another costly sweep for New York.

After Brett Myers won 3-0 on Friday night, Moyer (13-7) also was on top of his game when Philadelphia needed it.

Using his typical array of floaters and dashing to the mound for warmup pitches even before the Mets lumbered off the field, he beat an ineffective Martinez (5-4) in the makeup of Saturday's rainout.

"He's definitely a guy that you don't want to face coming off an off day, with the adrenaline pumping, a big series," said David Wright, who hit one of three consecutive doubles off Eyre. "That's a tough guy when you're an aggressive team."

Asked if this series is starting to rekindle bad memories of last September, Wright had a one-word answer: "No."

Moyer's 243rd win tied him with Hall of Famer Juan Marichal for 50th on the career list. The lefty is 6-1 with a 2.97 ERA in his past 12 starts. Now 2-1 with a 3.53 ERA against the Mets this year, he has pitched at least six innings in 19 of his 20 career starts versus New York.

"He has more patience than a hitter has," Charlie Manuel said. "He has a tremendous feel for pitching and he is very prepared."

Philadelphia improved to 7-10 against the Mets this season after winning the final eight matchups last year.

The 36-year-old Martinez lasted only four innings, giving up six runs and seven hits. He felt stiffness during his previous start, a win at Florida, and returned to New York to work out while the Mets completed a 6-2 road trip with a three-game sweep in Milwaukee.

"It was a lot better today. The results were not what everybody expected, especially me," Martinez said before praising Moyer. "It's been two or three years since I've come down in my velocity. He's accustomed to that."

Martinez walked Jayson Werth on four pitches in the second and Dobbs doubled over the head of right fielder Fernando Tatis.

After Matt Stairs' sacrifice fly, Martinez made a key mistake. With first base open and the pitcher on deck, the three-time Cy Young Award winner gave up a two-out RBI single to Carlos Ruiz, who had three hits.

Ryan Howard doubled leading off the fourth and went to third on Werth's single before Dobbs drove an 0-1 pitch to right for his eighth homer. He also had a two-run shot in the series opener and is 9-for-25 (.360) with three home runs and eight RBIs against the Mets this year.

"Once again, it's coming down for October between these two teams," Dobbs said. "We all know it. They know it. It's all it really takes to really get you going. You've got so much to play for."

Ruiz doubled and scored on Jimmy Rollins' pop-fly double that dropped between shortstop Jose Reyes and left fielder Nick Evans as they struggled to track it in the sun.

Moyer and Martinez both were touched up when they squared off Aug. 26 in Philadelphia, a game the Phillies won 8-7 in 13 innings after rallying from a seven-run deficit.

Game notes
Wagner faced teammate Gustavo Molina between games and walked off the mound after hitting him on the left foot with his 13th pitch. The lefty consulted with a trainer and the Mets' coaching staff. ... Moyer improved to 8-4 lifetime against the Mets.