I’m just glad Billy Wagner isn’t likely to start a war of words with Tom Gordon over which reliever has been the better value this season. As it stands, the Mets closer finds something distasteful about new Yankees acquisition Cory Lidle burying his former Philadelphia teammates. After all, that’s Wagner’s job. From the New York Post’s Michael Morrisey.

Billy Wagner called former Phillies teammate Cory Lidle (above) “chicken” yesterday for blasting the Phils only after Lidle was out the door.

Wagner basically agreed with Lidle’s message – that the Phillies were uninspired and didn’t exhibit a winning attitude every day. But the Mets closer thought it was cowardly to speak up only after leaving town.

“I don’t think that’s the way you handle it,” he said before last night’s game against Philly. “I may not be liked, but I said my piece [to his teammates] while I was there. And that’s the way it should be. You should be accountable.

“I think that’s kind of chicken that Cory said it out the door. I don’t think Cory has very much room to talk, to be honest with you.”

Chase Utley’s 35 game hitting streak may have ended last night, but late HR’s from David Dellucii and Ryan Howard were the margin of victory for the surging Phillies, winners of 9 out of their last 11, and a genuine threat in the wild-card chase, despite recent cost-cutting measures that benefit the Yankees.

This hasn’t been a great week for Aaron Heilman, Chad Bradford, Pedro Feliciano or Billy Wagner. If the Mets’ remarkably consistent relief corps had to suffer a letdown, at least it’s happening while the club has such a cushion in the standings. Given the long odds on any of the starters delivering 7+ innings (John Maine excepted, and it would be wildly optimistic to presume he can maintain such excellence), well…now we know why there was such an effort to obtain Scott Linebrink.

Much as I’d like to see the 2006 NL MVP Trophy with Carlos Beltran and David Wright’s names engraved alongside each other, if the Phillies stay in the playoff hunt, Howard has to receive serious consideration. This afternoon at Shea, a first inning 3-run HR by Howard off Tom Glavine has the Phillies in front, 3-1 after one and a half. After bumping into the stands along the left-field line while unsuccessfully trying to run down a foul ball, Cliff Floyd has made an early exit, replaced by Endy Chavez.

Mike DeFelice is making his first big league start of ’06, with Ramon Castro being placed on the DL Friday.

The Braves and Reds are tied at 3 after an inning and a half in Cincinnati. Brian McCann hit a 3 run HR, his second in as many days, off Bronson Arroyo in the top of the first. Adam Dunn responded with a two run HR, his 32nd, in the bottom of the 2nd inning.