Philadelphia Phillies earn rare series victory over New York Mets

By Jerry Beach, The Sports Xchange   |   April 21, 2017 at 1:24 AM
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NEW YORK -- It took the Philadelphia Phillies more than a year to win a series against the New York Mets. It took just one night for the Phillies to rediscover the middle of their lineup and find a second closer.

The slumping Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph each broke out with big games Thursday, when right-hander Hector Neris earned his first save of the season by throwing a perfect ninth to close out the Phillies' 6-4 win over the Mets at Citi Field.

The Phillies (6-9) took two of three from the Mets to snap a six-series losing streak against New York dating back to April 8-10, 2016. Philadelphia went just 5-14 in between series wins against its National League East rivals.

"It's always nice to win a series; but, against these guys, it was special, as much as they beat us up over the last year," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.

The Phillies completed the series win thanks in large part to a battered heart of the order bouncing off the canvas. Cleanup hitter Franco lifted his average from .158 to .172 by going 2-for-4, with an RBI double in the third inning and a homer leading off the eighth. The third-inning hit snapped a career-worst 0-for-22 skid for Franco.

"Franco's not going to hit .150, .160, and these guys that are hitting .380 and .400, they're not going to hit .380 and .400," Mackanin said. "Everything evens out. And once we get everybody where they're supposed to be, I think we're going to be OK."

Joseph, the sixth-place hitter who entered Thursday batting just .159, gave the Phillies the lead for good with an RBI double in the second. He added singles in the sixth and eighth. The three-hit game was the first for Joseph since July 9, 2016.

"Any time you get a couple hits, you like to keep it going with consistent at-bats," Joseph said. "As long as your mental approach is solid, you'll keep progressing forward."

Joseph scored on an error by first baseman Jay Bruce one batter before Andrew Knapp capped the three-run inning with an RBI double. Aaron Altherr followed Franco's slump-snapping hit in the third with a run-scoring groundout.

The five early runs were just enough for right-hander Aaron Nola (2-0), who gave up four runs -- on a second-inning RBI single by Rene Rivera and a three-run homer by Neil Walker in the third inning -- on seven hits and four walks while striking out two over five innings.

Joely Rodriguez threw two perfect innings before Joaquin Benoit, who recorded the Phillies' previous save last Saturday, threw a one-hit eighth to set the stage for Neris' third career save.

Mackanin said he didn't want to name Neris and Benoit a closer-by-committee, but he said he likes the option of using the right-handers in any order to get the final six outs.

"You hear a lot these days about how pitchers are being used differently with different teams," Mackanin said. "I just look at it like this: It's nice to have two guys I trust at the end in the eighth and the ninth. I trust both of those guys. So, I just seized the opportunity to try it tonight."

The fifth loss in six games was a costly one for the Mets (8-8), who lost left fielder Yoenis Cespedes to a left hamstring injury in the fifth inning. Cespedes is scheduled to undergo an MRI Friday, though both he and manager Terry Collins are hopeful he'll only be out a couple days.

"It felt like a shock," Cespedes said. "It wasn't a pull."

The Mets were already short-handed, with first baseman Lucas Duda (left elbow), catcher Travis d'Arnaud (right wrist) and infielder Wilmer Flores (knee infection) all unavailable to start Thursday. Flores would have started in place of Duda. Instead, usual right fielder Jay Bruce had to make his fourth career appearance at first base, where he made a pivotal error during the second inning.

"Trainer's room is starting to fill up again," Collins said. "And we don't need that."

Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Conforto had two hits apiece for the Mets.

Right-hander Noah Syndergaard (1-1) allowed five runs (three earned) on seven hits and no walks while striking out 10 over seven innings.

Jeurys Familia, the Mets' closer who was suspended the first 15 games of the season following an offseason domestic violence incident, made his debut in the ninth inning and walked two in a scoreless frame.

NOTES: The Mets made a spate of roster moves before the game when they activated RHP Jeurys Familia from the restricted list, recalled C Kevin Plawecki from Triple-A Las Vegas, optioned LHP Sean Gilmartin and RHP Rafael Montero to the same affiliate and moved 3B David Wright from the 10-day disabled list to the 60-day DL. ... Phillies OF Michael Saunders was a late scratch from the starting lineup because of illness. He flied out as a pinch hitter in the sixth.

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