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Mets losing streak at eight

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Don't tell Cory Lidle that Philadelphia's
new ballpark is a hitter's haven that's messed with the psyche of
pitchers around the league. He'll just shrug it off, throw a few
sinkers and toss a few shutout innings.

Lidle threw a three-hitter for his second straight shutout and
knocked in three runs with a double, and the Phillies extended the
New York Mets' losing streak to eight with a 7-0 victory Saturday
night.

"I don't mind. The other pitchers have to pitch here," Lidle
said. "I know if my sinker's on, I'm going to get groundballs."

And a lot of easy outs.

Lidle (9-12) has finally provided the Phillies with the
late-season boost they wanted after acquiring him from Cincinnati
on Aug. 9. He pitched only 14 innings and was 0-2 with a
no-decision in his first three starts for Philadelphia before
tossing a four-hitter against Milwaukee last Sunday.

Still, Lidle was sharp against the Mets in his fifth complete
game this season, putting him two behind Montreal's Livan Hernandez
for the NL lead. Lidle tossed his fifth career shutout and third
this season.

Lidle was the first Philadelphia pitcher to toss consecutive
shutouts since Curt Schilling in 1992.

Is a third on the way?

"Let's not think about that one yet," he said, smiling.

Lidle said his turnaround came after pitching coach Joe Kerrigan
told him to scrap the cut-fastballs and slider he'd been working on
and stay with what works -- sinkers and first-pitch strikes.

"I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to get done," Lidle said.

Jimmy Rollins hit a three-run homer and Jason Michaels scored
twice for the Phillies, who are 8-13 since Aug. 12 -- with all of
their wins against last-place Milwaukee and the Mets.

Al Leiter (9-6) walked five and allowed four hits and six runs
in five innings for New York, which has lost 13 of 14.

Lidle allowed only an infield single to David Wright in the
second inning, a single to center by Jeff Keppinger in the sixth
and a single to Wilson Delgado in the eighth. He walked none,
struck out three and did not allow a runner past second.

He made quick work of the Mets, throwing only 95 pitches and
retiring 12 straight between the second and sixth innings. The
2-hour, 15-minute game was the Phillies' shortest this season.

Lidle was Cincinnati's opening day starter and its most notable
addition last offseason, signing a $2.75 million, one-year
contract. He can become a free agent after this season.

Lidle said he's like to return to Philadelphia. Manager Larry
Bowa would like to have him back, too.

"When he keeps the ball down, he's very effective," Bowa said.
"When he's down, he's tough."

He's also handy with the bat.

Jim Thome led off the second inning with a walk and moved to
third on David Bell's double. After Pat Burrell struck out, Jason
Michaels walked to load the bases.

Leiter struck out ex-Met Todd Pratt for the second out, but got
careless against the opposing pitcher. Lidle, who homered in his
last start, ripped a fastball down the third-base line for a 3-0
lead.

"That was a huge hit for them with two outs," Mets manager Art
Howe said.

Lidle helped himself again in the fourth, with a nice bunt that
moved Michaels to third and Pratt to second. Rollins then followed
with a three-run home run, his ninth this year.

Bell added a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Lidle -- who made his major league debut with New York in 1997 --
improved to 3-0 against the Mets this season.

Mike Piazza, who turned 36 on Saturday and went 0-for-4, said
this has been a depressing season.

"This is the most embarrassed and frustrated I've ever been,"
he said. "I'm taking bad swings, poor pitch selection, it's tough.
It's one of the most unhappy birthdays in a long time. You don't
have anything if you don't have professional pride. We're a bad
team right now."

Game notes
The Phillies hit their 100th homer at home, one shy of the
team record set in 1977. ... Lidle extended his scoreless innings
streak to 20. ... A crowd of 43,089 gave the Phillies 41 sellouts
in 70 games at their new park. They improved to 35-35 at home. ...
Phillies LHP Billy Wagner was activated from the 15-day disabled
list. Wagner had been out since July 30 with a strained left
rotator cuff.