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ATL@PHI: Hamels fans nine, holds Braves to two runs

The Phillies and Mets won't be playing into October this season, but that doesn't mean they haven't had anything to be excited about.

When Philadelphia plays host to the Mets on Friday for the beginning of their final home series, they will send two of the hottest players in baseball to the field in pitcher Cole Hamels and catcher Carlos Ruiz. The Mets, meanwhile, hope to see the return of third baseman David Wright.

Ruiz has an .897 OPS since July 29, and his .556 (15-for-26) average with six doubles and 21 RBIs with runners in scoring position since Aug. 8 is the best mark in baseball in that span.

"I think he's confident with where he's at, and he's swinging a hot bat," Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg said before Ruiz went 0-for-4 with a walk in Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Marlins in 10 innings. "He just continues to come up with guys on base and right now, that's his knack and what he's hot doing. He continues to have his opportunities and he's the right guy up there in those situations."

The Phillies have won Hamels' last six starts, and the lefty is 6-2 with a 2.32 ERA in his last 14 starts. He has allowed more than two earned runs in a start just three times since the beginning of July.

Hamels held the Nationals, who are still alive in the National League Wild Card chase, to three earned runs in six innings in Saturday's 5-4 victory.

"I think we're playing our own game, no matter who we're playing," Hamels said after the win. "We have guys that are playing for positions next year, and ultimately we're trying to win a ballgame, no matter what the opponent is and no matter what they're going toward."

Hamels might have to face Wright, who did running and fielding drills again on Thursday morning and will see how he feels later in the day and on Friday before determining if he'll be in the lineup.

"A lot of it depends on how I feel today," Wright said. "We're going to go out on the field again today and kind of see how I feel. That's what happened before when you start making predictions and they don't come to fruition, all of a sudden it's viewed as a setback, and that's not the case. I'm not ready to make any predictions. We'll see how I feel today and we'll discuss kind of what tomorrow holds."

Mets: Matsuzaka finds his way
After struggling in his first three starts with the Mets -- going 0-3 with a 10.95 ERA -- Daisuke Matsuzaka has hit stride in his last two outings.

The right-hander, who signed with New York in August, has had better command and has allowed only two runs on five hits and four walks his last two trips to the mound, spanning 12 2/3 innings. His win over the Marlins on Saturday was his first since Aug. 27, 2012.

"As a pitcher, once you get on the mound, the most important thing is to get outs," Matsuzaka said through his interpreter. "Not being able to do that, not being able to pitch the way I want was very stressful. It was a hard time for me. But the important thing was to accept the situation that I was in, and I was able to do that the last two outings."

"I'm not surprised," manager Terry Collins said of Matsuzaka's rebound. "This guy competes. He has competed his entire life at any stage, any situation, never gives in. And what he's doing now is making pitches."

Phillies: Kendrick hoping to finish season
Though he was scratched from his Wednesday start with right shoulder discomfort, Kyle Kendrick said he hopes to make his last two starts of the season. Kendrick had an MRI exam on his shoulder Tuesday, and was pulled on Wednesday for precautionary reasons.

"It was to the point where I wanted to get it checked out, because it wasn't going away," Kendrick said. "It put my mind at ease. Hopefully, I'll feel better tomorrow and play some light catch Friday. … Some tendinitis. A little bit of fraying, but nothing crazy. Nothing most pitchers don't have."

Since late June, Kendrick is 3-9 with a 6.45 ERA in 14 starts. His shoulder has been an issue for about five weeks.

"I definitely haven't felt 100 percent," he said. "Usually, in the past, I've felt pretty good. I'm not going to make excuses, but I didn't feel good. I'll just tell you that. Hopefully with this rest and knowing what it is, it can help me out a little bit."

Worth noting
• Since Aug. 19, the Phillies have won five of their six home series and are 13-6 at Citizens Bank Park in that span.

• Matsuzaka is 1-1 with a 4.41 ERA in three career starts vs. Philadelphia (16 1/3 innings).

• In 25 starts against the Mets, Hamels is 7-12 with a 4.29 ERA.

• Ruben Tejada sustained a broken right fibula on Wednesday night and will miss the remainder of the season.

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