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Phillies-Mets: 5 things you need to know
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Phillies vs. Mets
1:05 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet

After dropping the first two games against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies used a Ryan Howard two-out walk-off single to win, 7-6, Sunday afternoon (see story).

Now the Phillies look to even the series in a Monday afternoon finale. The Phillies are 5-10 against the Mets in 2014.

David Buchanan (6-5, 4.39) will take on Jonathon Niese (5-8, 3.51) in the final game of a four-game wraparound series. Here are five things you need to know:

1. Blanco starts for Utley
With Chase Utley getting the day off, Andres Blanco gets the start at second base for Ryne Sandberg (see lineup).

Blanco has appeared in 15 games this season, accumulating 20 at-bats. He has seven hits, including two doubles and has only struck out three times this season.

Utley sits after finishing a double short of the cycle Sunday, going 3 for 4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Utley is now hitting .287 on the season with 11 home runs and 60 RBIs.

2. Buchanan vs. Niese
David Buchanan debuted in Phillies pinstripes on May 24, and has made 11 starts with the big club since. The 25-year-old has a 6-5 record and a middle-of-the-road 4.39 ERA.

In his last start, Buchanan picked up a quality start, allowing three earned runs on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings of work.

Buchanan’s opponent today, Mets’ lefty Jonathon Niese heads into Monday afternoon with a 5-8 record and a 3.51 ERA over 21 starts.

Niese’s best season came in 2012 when he went 13-9 with a 3.40 ERA.

3. Howard producing
Ryan Howard has had the kind of week that silences critics, if only for a little bit.

Since an 0 for 4, two strikeout performance in a shutout loss against the Nationals on Aug 3, Howard has knocked in three game-winning hits, including an eighth-inning grand slam to beat the Astros on Aug. 7.

In that span, Howard has hit two home runs and tallied nine RBIs.

The clutch hitting has been enough for some to overlook his .218/.298/.376 triple slash line. Despite the strong week, Howard has only raised his average from .215 to .218, amassing seven hits in his last 27 at-bats.

4. Phillies bullpen
While the starters have not necessarily been lights out for the Phillies of late, the bullpen has picked up the slack.

The bullpen has allowed one earned run over its last 24 2/3 innings pitched (see story).

On Sunday, the bullpen followed up Kyle Kendrick’s five earned runs over five innings with four scoreless innings. Mario Hollands, Jake Diekman and Ken Giles shared the duty, affording the Phillies’ offense a chance to chip away at the Mets’ lead.

Ken Giles picked up his first major league victory after throwing a scoreless ninth.

5. This and that

  • Before the Phillies’ win Sunday, the Mets had won 11 of their last 12 games in Philadelphia.
  • Phillies vs. Niese: Ryan Howard (4 for 24, 11 K), Jimmy Rollins (11 for 50, 3 2B), Marlon Byrd (6 for 15, HR).
  • Mets vs. Buchanan: David Wright (1 for 4), Daniel Murphy (0 for 4), Lucas Duda (1 for 3).
  • Ryan Howard's Sunday walk-off was the fifth go-ahead RBI in the ninth inning or later this season, tops in the majors.
  • Since Aug. 5, the Phillies bullpen's 0.36 ERA ranks second among major league bullpens. They've given up 10 hits, six walks and struck out 27 in that span.