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NYM@LAD: Dickey fans 10 over eight scoreless frames

Most everything that's turned the National League East on its ear in the first half is encapsulated in Thursday's Mets-Phillies rubber match.

The Mets, the second-place Mets, have knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on the mound in the 7:10 p.m. ET contest. He's not only going for a wins title in the National League, he's got a legitimate chance at winning the pitching triple crown, and Wednesday could be a tune-up for a really big stage. Dickey's next start could be in the All-Star Game.

The last-place Phillies, meanwhile, have lefty Cole Hamels on the mound, and Hamels has been darn good himself. His 10 wins are two behind Dickey's league-leading 12 and tied for third-most. But the Phillies, as a team, have been so poor that this could be one of his last starts with the only pro organization he's ever known.

The possibility Hamels could be shipped out will surround each of his starts until either the Trade Deadline passes, he's dealt or a long-term deal is reached with Philadelphia. Combine that with the natural Mets-Phillies rivalry that's seen a standings flip-flop and Dickey's mystique, Thursday's a loaded game.

"I've always been optimistic," Hamels said of his hope he can stay in Philadelphia. "You never turn your back on people that believe in you. From drafting me with the medical issues that I had and even all the medical issues I had in the Minor Leagues, they still believed in me, still trusted me and kept me and pushed me. I've always been a more honorable guy than anything and I'll always stay that way. It's never something where you get bitter. I've never been that guy that's ever gotten bitter and used it against somebody."

Hamels last faced the Mets on May 28, in a game also at Citi Field. He let up four runs in eight innings and took the win in an 8-4 victory.

Dickey, the NL's Pitcher of the Month in June, will find out on June 9 who the Senior Circuit's starting pitcher is in the All-Star Game. He last faced the Phillies on April 13, throwing seven innings and letting up one run in a 5-2 win for New York.

"I feel like there's a lot of people who are worthy of starting the game," Dickey said of the Midsummer Classic. "Whether I pitch an inning, I start the game or I pitch the whole thing, it doesn't matter personally to me. I would certainly be honored if I was given the ball in the first inning, sure."

Phillies: Utley homers in day game after night game
Chase Utley started at second base Wednesday afternoon and went 1-for-5 with a two-run homer in a 9-2 win over New York. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had said he was hesitant to start Utley in day games following night games because Utley is coming back from chondromalacia in his left knee. Wednesday's performance could help him see more regular time.

Mets: Valdespin called up with Nieuwenhuis out
Kirk Nieuwenhuis (left hand) has not been placed on the disabled list but the Mets still wanted help, so they recalled Jordany Valdespin from Triple-A Buffalo and designated left-handed reliever Justin Hampson for assignment. That will leave the team short in the bullpen temporarily.

Scott Hairston and Valdespin should platoon in left field for the meantime.

Worth noting
• Mets starters have gone six or more innings in 17 of their last 18 games.

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