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Mets shut out Phillies in home opener

Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets

Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets high-fives teammates in the dugout after leaving a game against the Philadelphia Phillies during Opening Day at Citi Field on Monday, April 13, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Mets will have to do more, of course. After seven games of making the most out of every mistake, every error, every crumb, they know they can't lean on their pitching to do it all.

But if the Mets have learned anything about themselves in the last week, it's that for the first time in a long time, they can win without being perfect.

"Playoff-caliber teams, good teams, don't need to be clicking on all cylinders to win series, to win games," David Wright said after a 2-0 win over the Phillies in Monday's home opener.

The Mets expect to contend for the playoffs, as does a fan base that has grown weary of being starved. The largest regular-season crowd in Citi Field history -- 43,947 -- turned out to catch their first glimpse of a team that has embraced those expectations.

What they saw was a team that again leaned on pitching -- and a few breaks -- to overcome an offense that has scuffled out of the gate.

"Winning games is what it boils down to," said Michael Cuddyer, who tripled and scored a run. "And today was one of those days."

The Mets scratched together two runs with the help of an error by Chase Utley and a run-scoring hit that didn't travel 60 feet, 6 inches. But it was enough because of reigning National League Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom and a depleted bullpen that has yet to blink.

In his second start of the season, deGrom (1-1) allowed seven hits in 6 1/3 innings to earn his first victory. With a workmanlike effort on a day when he battled with his command, he walked one and struck out three. "I really didn't think he had his A-game today," Collins said after deGrom lowered his ERA to 1.46.

After deGrom departed with two runners on base in the seventh, Carlos Torres kept the Phillies off the board. He got some help from second baseman Daniel Murphy, who made a diving stop on Cesar Hernandez's grounder to prevent the tying run from scoring.

Lefty specialist Jerry Blevins mowed through three lefthanded hitters in the eighth before handing off to Jeurys Familia, who worked past a leadoff walk to earn his second save in as many days.

With that, the Mets improved to 4-3 despite finishing 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

They made that hit count. After Murphy doubled with one out in the fourth and moved to third on Travis d'Arnaud's fly to right, Juan Lagares hit a comebacker that went off the glove of Aaron Harang (1-1) before rolling down on the slope of the mound. It got away long enough for Lagares to leg out an infield hit, allowing Murphy to score.

The Mets didn't score again until the eighth. Cuddyer singled with one out and went to third when Utley let Murphy's hard grounder bounce between his legs. D'Arnaud's sacrifice fly made it 2-0.

"Good teams take advantage of those," Cuddyer said. "When you get extra outs, good teams take advantage. You see that a lot."

The Mets have seen it plenty. Of the 22 runs they've scored this season, nine have been unearned.

"How many times do you see a ball go through Chase Utley's legs?" Collins said. "Like never. We capitalized and got a run out of it. That's how we've been winning."

That could change, of course, unless the Mets begin to click on offense. Collins insists he's seen encouraging signs, noting that the Mets have yet to be rewarded for making solid contact. Of the eight players in the regular lineup, four are hitting .179 or worse.

"There's a lot of growth that's going to happen," Cuddyer said. "We're going to get better and continue to improve."

Indeed, the Mets must straighten out a lineup that Wright said is "not close" to reaching its potential. But pitching has bought them time. And they have won, even when they've been less than perfect.

"Our pitching staff's so great," d'Arnaud said. "You know every single day we have a chance to win based purely on our pitching."

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