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Mets Out To Prove They're Contenders As Phillies Invade Citi Field

NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) -- The Mets created a stir over the All-Star break by trading away closer Francisco Rodriguez, leading many to question the direction of the team.

In contrast, the Phillies are pleased with their current position and are hoping to build on an impressive first half.

In what is vital stretch for manager Terry Collins' club, the Mets open their second half with a three-game set with the visiting Phillies, who continue their quest for a fifth consecutive NL East title Friday night.

New York (46-45) dominated the headlines following Tuesday's All-Star game after it sent K-Rod and cash to Milwaukee for two players to be named later.

"This certainly does not signify a change in direction from our continuing attempt to win games this season," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. "I certainly would not draw any conclusions from this transaction."

New York, which entered the break having lost three of four - including Sunday's 4-2 defeat at San Francisco, isn't necessarily done dealing. If the organization's up-and-down play doesn't improve, the swirling rumors surrounding All-Stars Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran could come to fruition.

"What we have discussed in the last few weeks is how important each of our next few games have been and will be," Alderson told the Mets' official website. "We're obviously in a delicate part of the season where wins and losses might dictate what we do."

While Beltran, 21 for 62 (.339) over his last 15 games, looks to continue his hot hitting, Reyes (strained left hamstring) remains on the 15-day DL and won't be available as the Mets try to avoid a seventh loss in nine home meetings with the Phillies (57-34).

Philadelphia owns the majors' best record due largely to its pitching staff, which has compiled an MLB-low 3.02 ERA.

"Our pitching definitely jumps out at you, not only our starters but also the consistency of our bullpen," said manager Charlie Manuel, whose club defeated Atlanta 14-1 on Sunday. "...Hopefully we can keep going and have a big second half."

Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are deserving of much of the credit for the Phillies' success on the mound, but Vance Worley (4-1, 2.20 ERA) has certainly held his own.

In order to stay on his regular pitching schedule, Worley was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after allowing two hits and striking out six in seven innings of a 1-0 victory at Florida on July 4.

"I don't think anybody could predict how well he's been (pitching)," catcher Brian Schneider said. "He's exceeded a lot of people's expectations."

The 23-year-old, 2-0 with a 0.72 ERA during his last four starts, continued his dominance in the minors, giving up three hits and one walk over six innings of a 6-0 win Saturday.

Worley overcame four walks to defeat the Mets 10-3 in his season debut April 29 but yielded career worsts of eight runs - five earned - and 12 hits in three innings of a 9-5 road loss May 29.

New York counters with fellow right-hander R.A. Dickey (4-7, 3.61), who after opening the season 1-5 with a 5.08 ERA, has gone 3-2 with a 2.42 mark over his 10 most recent outings.

The knuckleballer has pitched 15 scoreless innings in two career starts against the Phillies at Citi Field, where he threw a one-hitter during a 1-0 win Aug. 13.

What's your prediction for Mets-Phillies? Sound off below...

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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