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Abreu's shot in ninth keeps Philly in first

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Bobby Abreu smiled as the remnants of a
shaving cream pie dripped off his neck and hair. Not even
first-time All-Stars who hit winning homers are immune to
Philadelphia's postgame celebration.

Abreu homered leading off the ninth inning Thursday night,
giving the Phillies a 5-4 victory over the New York Mets and
extending their lead in the NL East.

Abreu wasted little time against John Franco (2-5), hitting his
second pitch the opposite way to left field. Abreu, named to the
All-Star team for the first time a day earlier, lost his helmet as
he crossed the plate, where he was mobbed by his teammates.

Abreu went 4-for-5 with two doubles and three RBI. The crowd
chanted "Bobby! Bobby!" after he got face full of shaving cream
during a postgame interview.

"It's something we do," Abreu said, smiling. "It's part of a
tradition."

It's been a memorable two days for Abreu, who earned the final
spot on the NL All-Star team in Internet fan voting Wednesday. He
earned a standing ovation before his first at-bat that night, and
the cheers continued Thursday.

"I couldn't imagine it, but it's exciting," Abreu said.

The Philadelphia fans, who have often given Abreu a hard time,
have suddenly come around on the soft-spoken right fielder.

"They've been good to me the whole week," Abreu said. "These
games are for the fans."

Jim Thome hit his major league-leading 28th home run for the
Phillies, who gained a split of the four-game series. They hold a
two-game lead on the Mets and the suddenly surging Braves, who come
to Philadelphia this weekend for a three-game series.

Billy Wagner (2-0) earned the win with an inning of scoreless
relief.

Manager Larry Bowa hoped someone in the middle of the lineup,
either Abreu, Thome or Pat Burrell, would win the game.

"I said, 'It would be nice if one of our big guys would win
it," Bowa said. "As soon as I got the words out of my mouth, he
hit it."

The Phillies trailed 4-3 in the seventh, when Jimmy Rollins led
off with a walk and Placido Polanco singled against reliever Ricky
Bottalico. Abreu then smacked a tying single to right off lefty
Mike Stanton.

Stanton struck out Thome swinging, and intentionally walked
Burrell to load the bases.

Mets center fielder Mike Cameron then saved a run with a sliding
catch on a blooper by David Bell. Stanton retired Mike Lieberthal
to end the inning.

It was a tough loss for the Mets, who talked before the game
about seizing the opportunity to move into first place this late in
the season for the first time in four years. Instead, they'll have
to wait at least a little longer.

Still, manager Art Howe said the Mets are for real.

"You deal with reality tonight," Howe said. "I think the
Phillies know we're going to be around for the long haul."

The Phillies also plan to contend all season, but they must get
better starting pitching. Again, Philadelphia overcame another
mediocre outing by one of its starters.

Kevin Millwood allowed four runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings.
When he left in the sixth after giving up a double to pinch-hitter
Eric Valent, Millwood was booed by the crowd.

Phillies starters have gone at least seven innings only three
times this year, the worst mark in the major leagues.

Millwood was shaky all game, and he gave up a leadoff single to
Ty Wigginton in the sixth. Cameron followed with a homer for a 4-3
lead, his third in two games and 13th of the season.

Millwood, the subject of trade rumors, was hit hard to start the
game, giving up a leadoff single to Jose Reyes and an RBI double to
deep center by Kaz Matsui.

The Phillies went ahead in the fourth when Thome crushed one
into the second deck in left for a two-run shot.

Mets starter Matt Ginter allowed three runs and four hits in
five innings after failing to go past the fourth inning in three
straight starts. Ginter still hasn't won since May 21.

The Mets tied it 2-2 in the fifth on Cliff Floyd's RBI single,
but the Phillies regained the lead in the bottom half on Abreu's
two-out RBI double.

Game notes
Phillies CF Jason Michaels left with a hamstring strain in
the first inning. Michaels crashed hard while chasing down Matsui's
double. ... The Phillies had their 23rd sellout of the season. ...
Abreu stole his 18th base in 19 attempts. ... Franco pitched in his
1,072nd game, putting him alone in second place on the career list.
Franco had been tied with Dennis Eckersley. Jesse Orosco is first
with 1,248 games. ... Thome (61), Burrell (60) and Abreu (60) are
the first trio in Phillies history with 60 or more RBI before the
All-Star break. ... New York's Richard Hidalgo extended his hitting
streak to 11 games.