NEW YORK -- Lately, it seems John Maine is getting more of a challenge from the Sudoku puzzle in the paper than opposing hitters.
Maine prepared for his first start in 11 days by doing the numbers puzzle in the clubhouse, then went out and extended his scoreless streak to 23 innings as the New York Mets beat the Philadelphia Phillies 8-1 on Sunday night.
"He did a great job tonight going after hitters," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "He's trusting his stuff and that's why he's been successful."
Jose Reyes hit the Mets' eighth grand slam of the season -- matching a franchise record -- to cap a seven-run fourth inning that broke the game open.
Maine (2-3), who last pitched on July 26, gave up three hits in six shutout innings. He could have gone longer, but had been battling flu-like symptoms over the last few days.
The right-hander struck out four and walked three, and hasn't given up a run since July 8 against Florida. He has given up only 10 hits during his scoreless streak.
"It's more of a confidence thing," said Maine, who threw a simulated game between starts. "Now I know I can pitch out there."
Maine's scoreless streak is the longest by a Mets starter since Al Leiter's 25 innings in 1998. The first inning Maine pitched during his run was out of the bullpen, and his streak is the longest by any Mets pitcher since Mark Guthrie's 27 innings in 2002.
New York took two of three from the Phillies over the weekend and extended its NL East lead to 13 games.
Reyes, who signed a $23.25 million, four-year extension on Thursday, set a Mets season record for homers by a shortstop with his 11th, breaking a tie with Kevin Elster (1989) and Ed Bressoud (1966).
"I do that deal and today I hit a grand slam," Reyes said. "It's a great feeling for me and hopefully for my family also. They're watching on TV at the house and they are going to be happy."
Paul Lo Duca, who had three hits, led off the fourth with a double and, one out later, Carlos Delgado walked. David Wright, who signed a $55 million, six-year contract extension before the game, doubled in the first run.
"It's great when you can sign young guys like him and David. It gives New York fans something to look forward to," Randolph said.
Jose Valentin then grounded back to Scott Mathieson, who looked Delgado back to third before throwing high to first. The ball went off Ryan Howard's glove for an error on the pitcher, allowing Delgado to score and Valentin to get to second.
"Good teams always take advantage of mistakes," Randolph said.
Mathieson (1-3) loaded the bases with a walk to Endy Chavez. Lastings Milledge followed with an RBI single to make it 3-0 and, one out later, Reyes hit his second career grand slam way over the right-field wall.
Mathieson gave up seven runs -- two earned -- and six hits in 3 2/3 innings.
"It's one of those days I guess," Mathieson said. "I made a tough throw and it kind of snowballed from there and that gave them a little bit of momentum."
For the second consecutive day, an error by the Phillies' pitcher led to a big inning. Jon Lieber's wild throw sparked a Mets rally in New York's 4-3 win on Saturday.
"You've got to execute and make good throws," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "It's the majors. If you want to win a big league game, you've got to do those things."
After giving up two hits in the first, Maine retired the next 12 batters before walking Mike Lieberthal with one out in the fifth. Maine got into a jam in the sixth, giving up a single to Chase Utley and walking Howard with one out. He then struck out Pat Burrell and Aaron Rowand.
Valentin made it 8-0 in the fifth inning with his 12th homer.
Utley had two of the Phillies' three hits off Maine.
Lieberthal greeted reliever Royce Ring with a solo homer to lead off the seventh inning to give the Phillies 15 consecutive games with a home run, one off the franchise record set in 2002.
- The Phillies are 16-4 on Sundays.
- New York also had eight grand slams in 1999 and 2000.
- Mets OF Cliff Floyd still felt some tenderness in his Achilles' tendon and did not start Sunday's game. He hopes to be ready by Tuesday, when the Mets open a three-game set with San Diego "It will be a couple of days. The tests showed some fluid inflammation," Floyd said. "Hopefully I'll be ready Tuesday."
- Tom Glavine had the previous longest scoreless streak for the Mets this season with 17 innings.
- Lo Duca is hitting .430 (43-for-100) since July 1.