The Mets wrapped up one of the most remarkable months in franchise history Monday night, beating the Phillies, 3-1, in a victory that encapsulated their remarkable transformation.
The calm of a scoreless game was broken in the fifth when Michael Conforto hit a solo homer and Curtis Granderson added a two-run blast to cap a three-run outburst.
Bartolo Colon tossed eight scoreless innings to set up Jeurys Familia, who survived trouble in the ninth to record his 36th save.
With that, the Mets did something they hadn't done since they last won the National League pennant. Their 20 wins in August were the most in any month by the Mets since 2000.
"We made some moves that brought some energy, brought some enthusiasm to this team in the clubhouse and on the field," manager Terry Collins said, "and I think it's spread."
Indeed, the Mets began the month nipping at the heels of the Nationals, trailing by two games and desperate to prove that they could make a serious run at their first postseason berth since 2006.
The Mets now begin September 6 1/2 games clear of the Nationals, who find themselves chasing a team that has been re-energized by a flurry of moves before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. "Everybody took a deep breath," Collins said. "The pressure was gone."
Within the last month, the Mets welcomed back David Wright and Travis d'Arnaud. Conforto was called up and Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson arrived before the deadline. The results have been season-altering.
The Mets finished 20-8 in August (to the Nationals' 12-17), leading the National League with 45 homers, a club record for any month. They scored 168 runs, also the most in the NL in the last month. Of those runs, 43 percent came via the homer, which loomed large against the Phillies.
Conforto continued what has been an impressive first five weeks in the big leagues, going the opposite way for a solo shot that just cleared the fence over the 370-foot marker in left-center. The prospect's presence has underscored just how often things have gone right for the Mets recently.
Before his promotion about a week ahead of the trade deadline, the Mets attempted to make a trade for veteran outfielder Gerardo Parra. Only when the Brewers balked at the return -- pitching prospect Casey Meisner -- did the Mets call up Conforto. "That's all I wanted to do, to come up here and be a part of it," said Conforto, 22, whose homer was his fourth.
Granderson has continued what has been a solid bounce-back season in his second year with the Mets. He capitalized later in the fifth after Colon delivered a two-out single -- his seventh hit of the year -- to extend the inning. Granderson bashed Jerad Eickhoff's second pitch over the Mets' bullpen in right-centerfield.
The Mets (73-58) moved to 15 games over .500 as they enter the homestretch. They face a final month-plus filled with the most meaningful games they have played since 2008, when they endured a painful collapse.
Perhaps most importantly, the Mets enter September as the team to beat in the NL East. With the finish line inching into view and the spotlight growing brighter, they haven't flinched.
"You look at our puzzle," Granderson said, "and now it's a little more complete."