NEW YORK - On a staff full of All-Star teammates, Kyle Kendrick is looking more and more like the true ace.
Kendrick pitched the best game of his career, throwing a three-hitter and getting home-run help from Ryan Howard to lead the Philadelphia Phillies over the New York Mets 4-0 Friday night.
"I didn't feel different than any other start," Kendrick said. "Just got some outs."
As Kendrick met the media after the game, two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay and former World Series MVP Cole Hamels stood nearby in the clubhouse, playfully mocking his answers. Star Cliff Lee lingered around, too.
"He's had a lot of poise on the mound," Howard added.
The Phillies ended their three-game skid and dropped the Mets under .500 for the first time this season.
Kendrick (2-1) was in complete control, scattering three singles and not permitting a runner past second base.
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.
"I threw a lot of pitches the last game. I wanted to be more efficient," Kendrick said.
He was. Of his 107 pitches, 73 were for strikes.
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 threw the first complete-game shutout for the Phillies since Hamels last Aug. 13.
A swingman for much of his time in the majors, Kendrick moved into the rotation on a regular basis after midseason last year. He finished strong, and has carried over that success.
"He had a real good sinker, cutter, threw his changeup at the right times," Mets catcher John Buck said. "Seems like he was throwing good putaway pitches and just making all his pitches."
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 then jogged out to pitch.
After David Wright grounded out to end it, Howard caught the throw at first base and quickly flipped the souvenir ball to Kendrick while he was still on the mound.
Philadelphia broke a scoreless tie in the sixth inning when Michael Young hit an RBI single and Howard followed with a long three-run homer.
Howard picked on Dillon Gee (1-4) and the Mets once again. Earlier this month, Howard's homer sent Gee toward a fast 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, the most among active players. The drive to right-center field was Howard's third of the season and his latest hit during a two-week surge.
"Power stroke's always been there. You can't control where the ball goes," Howard said.
Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley opened the sixth with solid singles. Young hit a sharp RBI single, drawing cheers from the many Phillies fans at Citi Field.
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.
O'Nora was feeling ill before the game and went to a hospital as a precaution.
"Brian O'Nora got very ill. Just came on really, really fast and came into the dugout because he was going to be sick to his stomach," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Notes: Howard has five homers and 19 RBIs in his last 11 games vs. the Mets. ... Slumping Phillies CF Ben Revere didn't start for the second game in a row while resting sore quadriceps. ... 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.