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04/11/08 12:52 AM ET
Phils rally, fall to Mets on play at plate
Coste felt he had dish blocked, but Reyes called safe in 12th
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- A bang-bang play at the plate that could've gone either way. A perfect throw by the Phillies' non-regular center fielder and an effective block by the backup catcher. Yet somehow one of the game's most electric players found a way to get his hand on the dish and be called safe. These things tend to happen when the Phillies and Mets dance. The teams crackled for 12 innings on Thursday night at Shea Stadium, when the Mets' Jose Reyes -- the aforementioned electric player -- stroked a two-out double, then streaked home on the wings of an Angel named Pagan. Mets 4, Phillies 3. The game didn't end without controversy. Jayson Werth, who entered the game in the seventh, charged Pagan's up-the-middle roller, hit to center off Tom Gordon. In one motion, Werth picked up the ball and rifled a throw to the third-base side of home plate. Catcher Chris Coste received it and braced for a collision. The plate was his. "The plate was blocked every way possible," said Pagan, who had a good view. "Jose said when he saw the catcher, he wasn't sure he could score." Reyes didn't touch the plate initially, though home-plate umpire Ted Barrett ruled that there was no tag, either. With a second effort, Reyes touched the plate with his left hand, before Coste could land the glove. Coste vehemently argued, but his protests were drowned out by a sea of blue and orange and a mobbing of Reyes near the plate. "I had the plate blocked. I had the ball before he got there," Coste said. "He hit my glove, then reached for the plate. I'm not going to get into it too much, because it's simple. I tagged him before he touched the plate. Obviously, it's not an easy call for the umpire."
After watching the video, Coste's opinion remained the same."I'm biased and I see what I want to see," he said. "I know right when I caught the ball. Right when I caught it, I felt him hit my glove. The video doesn't totally show it, but there's no question. I told myself, 'Block the plate no matter what happens,' and Werth did an unbelievable job of getting me the ball right away." The play gave the Mets a 2-1 advantage in games played this season, which is likely more significant for them than for the Phillies. By now, fans have heard about New York's September collapse and its inability to beat Philadelphia. That hasn't been the case in the past two days. "We'll see them a lot," and they're always a tough team," Gordon said. "No, I absolutely don't feel good at all. I didn't want that to happen." The ending ruined what looked like another Phillies' comeback against a Mets bullpen that seems to always struggle against Philadelphia, especially setup man Aaron Heilman. Heilman relieved starter John Maine -- who gave up only Pedro Feliz's solo homer in the seventh -- with the Mets leading, 3-1, and surrendered a home run to Ryan Howard and a walk to Pat Burrell. Pinch-runner So Taguchi went to third on a Geoff Jenkins single and scored on a groundout by Feliz to even the score. Heilman's career ERA against Philadelphia rose to 8.00 (32 runs in 36 innings). Phils manager Charlie Manuel applauded the effort of Adam Eaton, solid for a second straight outing, and a bullpen that kept the team in the game. But the offense couldn't solve the Mets and couldn't execute at the right time. The Phillies went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position. In the seventh, Feliciano inherited a two-on, no-out situation from Maine and struck out the side. Eric Bruntlett couldn't bunt two runners over in the 11th, and Chase Utley rapped into an inning-ending double play. The team that led the league in runs scored last season is batting .243. Last year, the Phillies hit .274. "We had a lot of opportunities, but couldn't get the right hit at the right time," Manuel said. "Our batting average is down and our run production is down."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.