The Phillies found themselves in quite a pinch last night at Citizens Bank Park.

They were 31/2 games behind the New York Mets in the National League East and four games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the wild-card race with just 16 to play.

They had no room for error.

They also had no pitcher.

So they asked Jamie Moyer, 45, to face the Brewers on three days' rest, the first time he would pitch on short rest since 2004.

"Somebody had to pitch," Moyer said after a 6-3 victory pulled the Phillies to within three games of the Mets and Brewers. "I just felt, you know what? Why not me? I felt like I was able to throw my name in the hat and let the staff make their choice from that."

The staff made a good choice. Moyer allowed three runs, four hits and a walk in 52/3 innings to improve to 14-7. He also struck out five.

"I thought Jamie did a great job," said first baseman Ryan Howard, who went 2 for 3 with a double, a home run and three RBIs.

Last season, the Phillies opened a three-game series against the Mets at Shea Stadium with 16 games to play. They swept the Mets to ignite one of the greatest comebacks in baseball history.

The Phillies, in a sense, could repeat history by sweeping the Brewers this weekend, which would pull them even with Milwaukee in the wild-card race. The Brewers, who let a comfortable lead in the Central Division slip away last season, have lost eight of their last 11 games and seem more than capable of blowing another shot at the postseason.

"You try not to look at that stuff," said Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino, who scored on a squeeze in the eighth inning. "I always say the past doesn't mean anything in the present. But yet it plays in the back of your mind in that what we did last year can still happen this year.

"You try not to live on that. It might not happen that way. But we want it to happen, and we're definitely excited for this run. It's almost like everybody is saying it's time for this team to do it again."

It will make things easier if Howard continues to swing a hot bat. He is hitting .386, with eight doubles, eight homers and 19 RBIs, in his last 15 games.

But just as impressive was the squeeze, in which Victorino scored on a bunt by Carlos Ruiz.

"I figured I might as well try to start being a National League manager," the Phillies' Charlie Manuel joked. "I think somebody forgot that I knew how to put the squeeze sign on.

"You want me to tell you the truth? I heard Ruiz when he went up the steps and asked somebody, 'What's the squeeze sign?' That kind of told me he wanted to squeeze."

It worked, just like asking Moyer to pitch on short rest.