The NL East rivals both won big Monday, setting up their two-game showdown for the division lead starting Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
Carlos Delgado hit a pair of three-run homers and Mike Pelfrey threw his second straight complete game, leading New York to a 9-1 victory over the Houston Astros at Shea Stadium.
The Phillies also got an impressive pitching performance. Brett Myers extended his shutout streak to 16 innings and Philadelphia finished a four-game sweep of the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers with a 5-0 win.
Now, after taking turns in first place since the All-Star break, the Mets and Phillies go toe-to-toe. New York begins the series up by a half-game.
“It means we have to go get two more,” Rollins, the scourge of Mets fans, said after a big game Monday night. “It’s no more important than the four games we have in Chicago after. Every game is the playoffs right now.”
Pedro Martinez is scheduled to start the opener for New York against 45-year-old Jamie Moyer in the first of five remaining matchups between the clubs.
Johan Santana goes in Wednesday’s finale against Philadelphia’s Kyle Kendrick.
Of course, it was the Phillies who charged past the Mets last September, taking advantage of New York’s massive collapse to win the division crown.
With revenge on their minds, the Mets have won nine of 13 meetings this season.
In other NL games, it was: Chicago 12, Pittsburgh 3; San Diego 4, Arizona 2; and Colorado 4, San Francisco 2.
Myers tossed seven gritty innings and Rollins went 3-for-3 with two RBIs as the Phillies completed their first four-game sweep of Los Angeles in 23 years. Philadelphia, which has won eight of 10 since losing four straight at Dodger Stadium, had never swept Los Angeles in a four-game series at home.
Rollins broke out of a 4-for-46 slump since calling Philadelphia fans “front-runners” in a television interview almost two weeks ago. The 2007 NL MVP tripled, doubled and reached base five times in his first multihit game since Aug. 13. He got his first extra-base hits since Aug. 12 and his first RBIs since Aug. 11.
“He was patient, he had short, quick swings and stayed on the ball,” manager Charlie Manuel said of his speedy leadoff hitter.
Coming off his first shutout in four years, Myers (7-10) allowed nine hits, struck out eight and walked three to help the Phillies move a season-high 13 games above .500 for the first time since June 13.
J.C. Romero worked the eighth and Clay Condrey finished the 13-hitter. Only two teams have had more hits without scoring a run in a nine-inning game: The New York Giants got 14 hits in a 7-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 14, 1913, and Cleveland had 14 in a 9-0 loss to the Washington Senators on July 10, 1928.
“You draw it up and the law of averages says you’re going to score some runs, but you can’t depend on that,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.
Chad Billingsley (12-10) gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings.
At New York, Jose Reyes had a big night at the plate and Pelfrey came within two outs of his first major league shutout. The six-hitter followed his first career complete game, when he allowed three hits in a 6-3 victory over Atlanta last Wednesday.
With a crowd of 49,791 chanting his name, Pelfrey (13-8) became the first Mets pitcher with consecutive complete-game wins since Bret Saberhagen in 1995.
“He has tremendous, tremendous confidence right now,” New York manager Jerry Manuel said. “He’s throwing some filthy stuff up there right now. I mean, absolutely filthy.”
Delgado’s homer in the first off Brian Moehler (9-5) barely sneaked over the wall in the left-field corner, but his drive off Wesley Wright in the seventh cleared the 410-foot sign in center.
Cubs 12, Pirates 3
At Pittsburgh, Aramis Ramirez hit a three-run homer and Chicago improved baseball’s best record.
Two slumping hitters, Jim Edmonds and Kosuke Fukudome, also had big games as the Cubs moved to 81-50 — the first time they’ve been 31 games above .500 since they ended the 1984 season 96-65.
Fukudome, hitting .161 in August when the game began, drove in four runs. Edmonds had a triple and two doubles after going 0-for-17 over his previous seven games.
Padres 4, Diamondbacks 2
At San Diego, Jody Gerut hit a two-run homer off Jon Rauch (4-5) in the ninth inning to snap the Padres’ seven-game slide. First-place Arizona remained three games ahead of the Dodgers in the NL West.
Trevor Hoffman (2-6) got the win. Dan Haren and Jake Peavy both pitched well in an entertaining duel, though neither got a decision.
Rockies 4, Giants 2
At San Francisco, Jeff Francis (4-8) got his first victory in more than two months and Yorvit Torrealba homered off Matt Cain (8-10) to help Colorado win for the eighth time in 10 games. Brian Fuentes earned his 26th save, ending the Giants’ season-high five-game winning streak.