Matt Harvey dazzles in final start, but Mets lose to Phils

Matt Harvey delivers a pitch to a Phillies

Matt Harvey delivers a pitch to a Phillies batter during a game at Citi Field. (Sept. 19, 2012) (Credit: David Pokress)

Matt Harvey delivered an impressive end to his promising beginning.

In the final start of his debut season, Harvey limited the Phillies to one hit over seven innings, though the Mets absorbed a deflating 3-2 loss to the Phillies.

Harvey did not factor in the decision, leaving with a one-run lead, which Ryan Howard erased in the ninth inning on a two-out, two-run homer off lefty reliever Josh Edgin.

With closer Frank Francisco out indefinitely with tendinitis in his right elbow, Edgin began his first-ever save chance with a pair of strikeouts. He ended it by walking Chase Utley in front of Howard, whose towering home run sent the Mets to their eighth consecutive loss at Citi Field.

Still, the bitter end did little to detract from a strong finale by Harvey, who in the eyes of manager Terry Collins already had cemented his standing as a mainstay in the rotation. Before a team-imposed innings limit ended his season, the 24-year-old pitched as if he were desperate to make one last impression.

Said Harvey: "I left it all out there.''

Harvey finished with 169 1/3 innings between the Mets and Triple-A Buffalo -- within the limit the Mets enforced in hopes of protecting his electric right arm. In 10 big-league starts, the former first-round pick finished 3-5 with a 2.73 ERA while racking up 70 strikeouts.

"With this being his last start, I wish we could have gotten a win for him,'' Collins said. "But Matt Harvey ought to spend the winter feeling pretty good about himself.''

Harvey allowed a leadoff homer to Jimmy Rollins before holding the Phillies to just three more baserunners the rest of the way, all on walks.

As the night wore on, the righthander worked with greater efficiency, an area the Mets are hoping he improves upon with more seasoning.

After needing 41 pitches to get through his first two innings, he needed only 34 to get through his next three. Collins could have pulled Harvey after six innings but let him begin the seventh, the manager's way of rewarding him for his season.

Said Collins: "He's earned that.''

Harvey's final pitch -- a 96 mph fastball that froze Carlos Ruiz -- gave him seven strikeouts. Fans behind the home dugout gave him a standing ovation as he slowly walked off the mound. He left with his team in the lead thanks to David Wright, whose solo homer in the sixth put the Mets in front, 2-1.

"There's definitely some excitement,'' Harvey said. "I had some tingles. It was kind of a sad moment I guess because I knew I was done.''

In the dugout, Harvey's teammates swarmed him with high-fives. Just like the fans, they also savored a peek into his bright future.

"He believes, rightfully so, that he belongs,'' Wright said. "I think there's definitely kind of an aura about him. He's got this incredible confidence in his ability, and a confidence that he belongs, and yeah I think he's obviously proven that."

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