PHILADELPHIA - Eight days ago, the Mets fired hitting coach Dave Hudgens and released reliever Jose Valverde after a brutal loss on Memorial Day. A season that started with thoughts of 90 wins seemed to be disintegrating into chaos.
Fast-forward to Tuesday: The Mets will wake up in Chicago with six wins in seven games since the firings after Monday night's 11-2 wipeout of the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
At 28-29, the Mets are tied with Washington for third place in the NL East.
Bartolo Colon pitched his third straight gem, Wilmer Flores hit a grand slam and drove in six runs and Matt den Dekker stole a home run and threw out a runner at the plate as the Mets ended a very long five-game series. The Mets took four of the five games, including two of the three marathons over the weekend. The teams played 14-innings games on Friday and Saturday and an 11-inning contest on Sunday.
Monday night's regulation-sized game was a makeup of a rainout from April 20. All told, the teams played 57 innings and 20 hours and 36 minutes of baseball.
Colon (5-5) was charged with two runs in seven-plus innings in winning his third straight start. He gave up six hits, walked three and struck out five. In his last three starts, he has a 1.61 ERA in 22 1/3 innings. His ERA has dropped from 5.84 to 4.52.
Colon had a scoreless streak of 16 1/3 innings snapped when the Phillies scored in the sixth. But the Mets were already in control by then, thanks in part to the defensive prowess of den Dekker, who was filling in for the injured Juan Lagares.
Den Dekker had spent Sunday in Philadelphia (and in limbo) as the Mets waited to see if they had to put Lagares on the disabled list with a rib-cage strain. They didn't, and Lagares played before leaving when the pain came back. So Lagares went on the DL and den Dekker was activated Monday night. He quickly showed why he was once considered Lagares' defensive equal.
The Mets were leading 1-0 thanks to back-to-back doubles by Bobby Abreu and Lucas Duda in the second against Roberto Hernandez, the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona.
Ryan Howard led off the bottom of the inning with a deep drive. But den Dekker leaped high above the railing and caught it to rob a sure homer.
Den Dekker struck again in the third when he gunned down former Yankee Reid Brignac at home on a single by Ben Revere. Den Dekker made a perfect throw to cut down Brignac by plenty after an unwise send by third-base coach Pete Mackanin -- den Dekker had the ball before the runner even got to third.
The game stayed 1-0 until the Mets scored four in the sixth to knock out Hernandez (2-3). David Wright had a two-run double off Hernandez and Flores a two-run double off reliever Mario Hollands to make it 5-0.
Colon departed after the first two men reached on singles in the eighth. Lefthander Dana Eveland made his Mets debut by getting Utley to fly to center and striking out Howard.
Jeurys Familia came in and threw a run-scoring wild pitch to make it 5-2 before retiring Marlon Byrd to end the threat. Curtis Granderson added a two-run single in the ninth before Flores' grand slam capped the Mets' six-run inning.