Mets rally to beat the Phillies

August 27, 2008 9:18:06 PM PDT
This resilient group sure isn't last year's New York Mets. Daniel Murphy hit a tiebreaking double after Carlos Delgado's second solo homer had tied the game in the eighth and the Mets beat Philadelphia 6-3 on Wednesday night to reclaim first place in the NL East.

Ryan Howard hit a two-run homer and Jayson Werth homered for the Phillies, who fell a half-game behind the Mets in the division.

New York rebounded from Tuesday night's tough loss in which the Phillies overcame a 7-0 deficit and won 8-7 in 13 innings.

"This was a huge, huge win for us simply because of the way we lost last night," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "We could've afforded to (lose), but the way we lost last night, you never know where that's going to lead you."

The Mets blew a seven-game lead with 17 remaining last season, losing the division to the Phillies on the final day. They're determined to avoid another collapse, though they don't have quite the same cushion.

One night after New York's bullpen blew a ninth-inning lead for the 10th time this season, the Phillies couldn't protect a one-run lead in the eighth.

Rudy Seanez (5-4), getting a rare opportunity as a setup man because four other relievers were unavailable, retired the first two batters before Delgado hit an opposite-field shot to left to tie it at 3.

Seanez left after Carlos Beltran reached on an infield single.

Brad Lidge, who is 31-for-31 in save chances, came in and intentionally walked Ryan Church after Beltran stole second.

Murphy, a rookie who spent most of the season at Double-A Binghamton, then ripped a double to right to score Beltran for a 4-3 lead, snapping an 0-for-16 slump. Brian Schneider followed with a bloop single down the left-field line that drove in two runs.

Murphy was in Hawaii preparing to play winter ball last September when the Mets crumbled, but he paid close attention to the race.

"It was kind of helpless," he said. "You always want to see the big league team do well."

Brian Stokes (1-0) pitched a scoreless inning for his first win with the Mets. Pedro Feliciano and Joe Smith worked the eighth and Luis Ayala finished for his second save in three tries. Ayala couldn't hold a one-run lead with two outs in the ninth Tuesday.

New York's Johan Santana had nothing to show for another quality start. He gave up three runs and five hits in six innings, striking out six. It was the 13th time Santana gave up three earned runs or fewer and didn't get a win. The two-time AL Cy Young award winner has a 2.70 ERA, second-best in the NL.

"These guys battled," Santana said. "It was a team effort. It's not about one guy or one pitcher. We did a great job."

No matter how much the Mets stress this is a different season, people won't let them forget about the historic collapse last year.

A sellout crowd of 45,138 at Citizens Bank Park jumped on the Mets right from the start. One fan held up a sign that read: "Remember September!" Another sitting behind the visitor's dugout yelled at players and continuously flashed a choke sign to anyone who looked his way.

Once New York rallied in the eighth, it was the Mets fans making all the noise.

"We're fighting some demons, the demons of the past, the rascals that have hung around us for a year," Manuel said. "Every time we lose a game like last night is a reminder of that."

The teams meet for a three-game series at Shea Stadium next weekend that will conclude a 10-game road trip for the Phillies.

The Mets lead the series 10-5 this season.

Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick allowed two runs and eight hits in five-plus innings. The 24-year-old right-hander has rebounded nicely from consecutive poor starts in which he allowed 13 runs in seven innings. He's given up three runs in 10 2-3 innings in his last two starts.

"I'm disappointed I didn't go deeper in this game," Kendrick said. "It's frustrating. We had a win right there."

Howard's league-leading 36th homer put the Phillies ahead 2-1 in the first. Werth made it 3-1 in the second with his 18th homer.

The Mets cut it to 3-2 in the sixth on Delgado's 29th homer, a high drive to right. Delgado's two-out RBI single in the first gave New York a 1-0 lead.

"We were short in the bullpen," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "I think (the race) will come down to the end."

Notes: Despite the gut-wrenching loss Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, Mets All-Star 3B David Wright stopped to sign autographs at 1:35 a.m. for a group of fans who were waiting outside the ballpark. ... The Mets lead the majors with 114 runs in the first inning. ... Delgado has 47 career multihomer games, five this season. ... Kendrick warmed up in the bullpen Tuesday night and would have entered the game if it reached 14 innings.