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Hitting-challenged Mets hang on to beat Phillies

Starting pitcher Jonathon Niese of the New York

Starting pitcher Jonathon Niese of the New York Mets throws a pitch in the third inning during a game against thePhiladelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 9, 2015 in Philadelphia. Credit: Getty Images / Hunter Martin

PHILADELPHIA - Early next week, Mets third baseman David Wright hopes to resume baseball activities. At about the same time, catcher Travis d'Arnaud also could begin his journey back from the disabled list.

Clearly, the Mets could use the help.

Though Juan Lagares provided a timely respite Saturday night, bashing a two-run homer in the seventh to key a 3-2 victory over the Phillies, the Mets' offensive futility complicated matters.

"If you look up and you're in the hunt late in the season, you've got to win these kinds of games," manager Terry Collins said.

It was a game the Mets easily could have squandered despite Jonathon Niese's gem. In seven innings, the lefthander surrendered only two unearned runs on a Dilson Herrera throwing error.

"This is probably the best I've felt in three years," said Niese, who lowered his ERA to 1.95.

But to preserve the victory, the Mets endured a late-inning high-wire act, thanks to a struggling lineup that could be reshuffled for Sunday's series finale.

Ruben Tejada, playing short for the slumping Wilmer Flores, made a game-saving stop in the eighth. With the bases loaded, one out, and the Mets scrambling to hang on to their lead, Tejada backhanded Carlos Ruiz's hard one-hopper to start a rally-killing double play.

"He hit it pretty hard and I tried to keep the ball down no matter what," Tejada said. "When I saw my glove, it was in there."

Alex Torres didn't help. Earlier in the inning, the lefy reliever threw nine pitches, and if not for one exceedingly generous call, none of them would have been strikes. His two walks loaded the bases. But reliever Buddy Carlyle got Ruiz to hit into the double play and the Mets survived after failing to blow open the game in their half of the eighth.

The Mets loaded the bases only to come away with nothing when the Phillies turned pinch hitter Johnny Monell's comebacker into a double play.

In the ninth, Jeurys Familia nailed down his 12th save in 12 chances, surviving a pinch-hit single by slumping Chase Utley.

The late-inning high-wire theatrics might not have been needed had it not been for a lagging offense that could use an infusion from Wright (sore back) and d'Arnaud (broken hand).

For May, the Mets began the night dead last in the National League in runs (13), homers (3), average (.207), on-base percentage (.261) and slugging (.299).

They have whiffed at a rate of 25.5 percent, the third highest total in the league after cutting down on strikeouts in the season's opening month.

They didn't score until the fifth against Aaron Harang because Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez failed to field a routine grounder by Lucas Duda, allowing Herrera to score.

But Herrera's throwing error gave the Phillies a 2-1 lead in the sixth. Leadoff man Ben Revere reached on Herrera's wide throw to first, then scored two batters later on Jeff Francoeur's sacrifice fly. With two outs, Ruiz's double knocked in Darin Ruf to give the Phillies their first lead.

However, the Mets reclaimed the lead on one timely swing by Lagares, who had been hitless in his previous 16 at-bats.

"I tried to be positive and go out there looking for a good pitch to hit," Lagares said. "I hit that one good."

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