The story of the 2013 Phillies has been their inability to escape mediocrity, as they've hovered around the .500 mark almost all season. Every step forward, it seems, has been followed by a step back, and they haven't been more than one game above the break-even mark all year.
They'll look to start turning things around on Friday against a familiar foe in the New York Mets, when Cole Hamels, the league's leader in losses, takes the mound. Facing the Mets, Hamels is 6-10 lifetime with a 4.20 ERA -- his worst mark against any National League team.
But the Phillies have played the Mets well this year. After losing the first game of the season series, Philadelphia has won five straight against its division rival by a combined score of 33-11.
Hamels (2-10, 4.40) was sharp on Sunday -- and has been all month -- but he allowed three earned runs in seven frames and took the loss in Colorado. Visibly frustrated after the game, Hamels called for improved performance all around, and the club responded with a pair of victories over Washington before dropping an 11-inning heartbreaker on Wednesday night.
"We have to be accountable for what we're doing," Hamels said after his last start. "I'm not happy about it, because there's a reason I want to be here, and that's to win. I know I've had a few bad games earlier on, but for the most part, I'm going out there and I'm trying to win every game."
Jeremy Hefner gets the ball for the Mets, and he, too, has had a tough time notching victories, with just one win in 13 starts despite a 3.96 ERA. He has allowed just one earned run in each of his past three outings.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis's walk-off homer against the Cubs on Sunday got Hefner off the hook for what would have been his seventh loss of the season, after he tossed five innings and allowed three runs.
Mets: Atchison ailing
• Righty reliever Scott Atchison was placed on the disabled list with a strained right groin on Wednesday, and the Mets recalled outfielder Andrew Brown from Triple-A Las Vegas to take his spot.
Brown homered in his lone at-bat since being recalled, a fifth-inning shot off Atlanta's Mike Minor on Thursday. He hit .200 with a homer in 18 May plate appearances.
Atchison, meanwhile, still hasn't pitched since May 13 after he spent a month on the DL with elbow inflammation.
Phillies: Finding room for Frandsen
• With the return of Chase Utley approaching, Kevin Frandsen may become the Phillies' odd man out in the infield. He has hit .286 in starts this season after hitting .330 in his 49 starts last season.
Manager Charlie Manuel wouldn't rule out the possibility of playing Frandsen in the outfield, but for now, Frandsen will continue to play around the diamond, including spot starts at first base against some tough left-handers.
"If it gets to a point, I may try things," Manuel said. "Right now, it looks like second and third and first base every now and then."
• Current hitters on the Phillies' roster are batting a combined 11-for-21 with four walks against Hefner. Jimmy Rollins is 3-for-7, and Domonic Brown and Ryan Howard have each reached base in all three of their plate appearances.
• The Phillies have dropped three of their past four series against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park.
• Phillies third baseman Michael Young surpassed the 1,000-RBI mark for his career with a two-run homer on Wednesday night.