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07/08/08 12:50 AM ET

Sluggers deliver, but rally falls short

Utley, Burrell, Howard, Jenkins go deep; Eaton roughed up

PHILADELPHIA -- Less than one month ago, the Mets dropped five games in a row to fall 7 1/2 back of the Phillies in the National League East.

But the Mets have used the past three games at Citizens Bank Park to let the Phillies know that they intend to put up a fight as Philadelphia seeks to defend its division title.

The Phillies' 10-9 loss to the Mets on Monday night in front of a sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park brought the Mets within 2 1/2 games in the National League East standings. The Mets have won seven of the teams' 10 meetings this year.

Adding to the sting was a comeback attempt thwarted for the second straight day. The Phillies trailed, 10-1, when they went to bat in the sixth. But home runs by Pat Burrell, Ryan Howard and Geoff Jenkins help cut into the lead.

The Phillies trailed by three heading into the ninth. With runners on first and second and two out, Pedro Feliz grounded a single up the middle. Shane Victorino raced home from second base. On the play, Eric Bruntlett slid into third as Carlos Beltran's throw sailed wide of David Wright at third base. Bruntlett got up and raced home to bring the Phillies to within one.

Jayson Werth then stepped in for a rematch with Mets closer Billy Wagner, who gave up Werth's two-run home run with two outs in the ninth inning on Sunday. Wagner was able to get his revenge on Monday, when he got Werth to pop up, stranding Feliz on second, to end the game.

"We hit better as the game goes on," Werth said.

The Mets wasted little time in sending their latest message Monday night. Jose Reyes and Endy Chavez led off the game with back-to-back base hits and later scored off starter Adam Eaton.

If there was ever a night when the Phillies needed some innings out of their starter, it was Monday. Philadelphia's bullpen had been stretched thin Saturday and Sunday, when manager Charlie Manuel had to rely on five relievers in back-to-back games for the first time in 2008.

But Eaton's struggles continued into the second and third innings. Brian Schneider scored on a single by Endy Chavez. The next batter, David Wright, doubled to score Jose Reyes from third and Chavez from first.

Eaton left the game in the third with his team in a 8-0 hole. In three starts against the Mets this season, Eaton has allowed 15 runs on 21 hits in 13 2/3 innings. Manuel said he thought Eaton left too many balls over the middle of the plate, and the Mets took advantage.

"They're obviously feeling good at the plate," Eaton said. "And tonight, I couldn't miss a bat."

The Phillies came into this series feeling good after a second three-game sweep in Atlanta created some distance in the division. They set their sights on the Mets, who had beaten them in four of six meetings heading into the series.

But the nine-run lead the Mets built by the sixth proved to be too big.

"When you try and catch up from a big deficit, it's hard," Manuel said. "I'm not saying we can't do it, because we can."

Kevin Horan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.