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Michael Conforto's sacrifice fly in ninth gives Mets another walk-off win over Phillies

Mets' Michael Conforto is mobbed by teammates

 Mets' Michael Conforto is mobbed by teammates after his walk-off sacrifice fly defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 at Citi Field on Saturday, June 26, 2021. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Mets did it again — and so did the Phillies’ bullpen.

Michael Conforto hit a walk-off sacrifice fly against Hector Neris, lifting the Mets to a 4-3 win Saturday. It was Philadelphia’s fourth blown save in two days (three games).

Approaching the halfway point of their season, the Mets are 40-32 and lead the middling National League East by five games. The Phillies are 35-39.

"The things we’re doing this year," Conforto said, "feel different to me."

 

With the Phillies up by one after scoring off an erratic Edwin Diaz in the top of the ninth, first baseman Rhys Hoskins gifted the Mets a start to their game-winning rally, booting pinch hitter Travis Blankenhorn’s grounder. Then Billy McKinney walked and Kevin Pillar singled to shortstop to load the bases with nobody out. Luis Guillorme drew a walk to force in the tying run against Neris, the longtime Philly closer who has a 5.24 ERA against the Mets.

Francisco Lindor struck out, bringing Conforto to the plate. His line drive to centerfield was caught by Odubel Herrera, but Herrera’s throw home was well late. McKinney scored easily.

That sent the Citi Field crowd of 29,205 — the largest gathering at a New York baseball game since the pandemic began — into a celebratory frenzy.

"It felt as close to playoff atmosphere as you could get for a Saturday afternoon game, being as hot as it was," said Pillar, who also had a pinch hit homer to tie the game in the seventh.

"Those are things I’ve learned to appreciate again a little bit. When I walked up to home plate, especially in the ninth inning, in a big situation like that, I definitely took a moment to look around and realize how far we’ve come as a country, how far we’ve come as an industry to be back at this point."

The fans were juiced from the start. Jacob deGrom got a standing ovation before throwing a pitch, plus periodic "M-V-P" chants throughout his outing. Perhaps the loudest midgame cheers came when the video board showed a replay of Luke Williams getting caught stealing third base in the ninth inning — he slid into Guillorme’s cleat instead of the base — and Pillar’s long ball, an opposite-field drive.

The feeling was mutual for Pillar, who yelled on his way to second base.

"Rounding first base, seeing that ball leave the yard is about as emotional as I get," Pillar said.

DeGrom lasted six innings and gave up two runs and three hits — his worst start of the season. It was the first time all year an opponent scored multiple earned runs against him. He will carry a majors-best 0.69 ERA into July.

"That’s a pretty high bar he’s set for himself," Conforto said.

With a 1-for-2 effort at the plate, deGrom also upped his average to .414 (with 12 hits in 13 starts). He also struck out a season-low five and walked one.

DeGrom blamed the relative mediocrity on his mechanics being out of whack and a lack of feel for his changeup (which meant he was limited to fastball/slider).

"I was fortunate enough to get out of there with giving up only two runs," deGrom said.

The Phillies struck in the second inning, when Andrew McCutchen’s ground ball ricocheted off deGrom’s butt and into centerfield for a single. McCutchen scored on Maton’s two-out RBI single to right, his first hit since May 18, snapping an 0-for-22 streak.

That ended deGrom’s scoreless streak at 31 innings, just shy of R.A. Dickey’s franchise record of 32 2/3, set in 2012. DeGro most recently had given up a run May 25 against the Rockies.

He was the first Mets pitcher to go 31 innings without allowing a run since . . . deGrom, in 2019-20.

Philadelphia re-took the lead in the sixth, when it loaded the bases with nobody out. DeGrom allowed McCutchen a sacrifice fly but avoided further damage.

Outpitching deGrom was Philadelphia righthander Zach Eflin, who gave up one run in six innings. That tally came in the second, when Dominic Smith (single), James McCann (single) and Jose Peraza (RBI double) had consecutive hits.

That was the first of the Mets’ three comebacks in the game.

"They play till the last out," deGrom said. "If we keep doing that, hopefully we like where we end up."

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