AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- Dillon Gee looked fine as he matched zeros with Kyle Kendrick and zipped into the sixth inning.
Then Ryan Howard and the Philadelphia Phillies got him again.
Howard homered to cap a sudden four-run burst, Kendrick pitched a three-hitter and the Phillies beat the New York Mets 4-0 Friday night.
The Phillies ended their three-game skid and dropped the Mets under .500 for the first time this season.
"I think he just got a few pitches up on some very good hitters," Mets catcher John Buck said. "Obviously, that's why they're the top of the lineup there. That's all it took. He was throwing really well, other than maybe four or five pitches all night."
Earlier this month, Howard's homer sent Gee (1-4) toward a quick exit -- the slugger has four home runs in 12 career at-bats against the righty.
This time, Howard launched his 36th career homer against the Mets, most among active players. The three-run drive to right-center field was Howard's third of the season and his latest hit during a two-week surge.
Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley opened the sixth with solid singles. Michael Young added a sharp RBI single, drawing cheers from the many Phillies fans at Citi Field. Howard came up next and broke it open.
"All of a sudden everything was right belt high," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "So tough that third time through the order, especially the top of that order."
"You've got to make pitches and in the sixth he didn't make them. He's pitching so good. Jimmy's tough, he gets a base hit. Two pitches in to Utley, he gets a base hit. By the time you got somebody warmed up" it was too late, he said.
Kendrick (2-1) scattered three singles and didn't permit a runner beyond second base.
Kendrick was in complete control and beat the Mets for the second time this year, looking every bit the ace like All-Star teammates Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels.
Kendrick struck out five and walked one during the second shutout of his seven-season career. Making his 128th start in the majors, he threw his third complete game and first since he blanked St. Louis on seven hits in May 2012.
The only Mets runner to get past first was Ruben Tejada, who singled with one out in the first and was stranded at second.
Kendrick clearly aimed to finish what he started. When the top of the eighth ended, the 28-year-old right-hander was already on the rubber before any of the Phillies took their positions for the bottom half.
Kendrick struck out with a wild swing to end the top of the ninth, went back to the dugout to retrieve his glove and jogged to the mound.
The game was delayed for nine minutes in the bottom of the first when home plate umpire Brian O'Nora left with flulike symptoms. It resumed with three umpires after first base ump Adrian Johnson changed into his plate gear.
NOTES: Howard has five homers and 19 RBIs in his last 11 games vs. the Mets. ... All-Star C Carlos Ruiz can be activated Sunday when his 25-game amphetamine suspension ends. Asked if Ruiz would go right into the lineup, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said, "More than likely, yeah." ... Young played at Citi Field for the first time. He's played big league games in 36 parks in his 14-season career. ... Mets RHP prospect Zack Wheeler had his second straight rough start for Triple-A Las Vegas. Collins said Wheeler could be "trying to overthrow, due to the league." The Mets' top affiliate shifted in the offseason from Buffalo to Las Vegas in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
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