Coming off getting swept in Pittsburgh, it was hard to say which was in worse shape: the Mets' anemic batting order or Bartolo Colon, who was battered in his previous two starts. But as if emerging from a cocoon on a sunny Memorial Day at Citi Field, both were transformed into something resembling an effective baseball team and pitcher in a 6-3 win over the Phillies.
Colon (7-3) battled for six innings Monday, limiting the Phillies to three runs and six hits, striking out six and walking two. He even singled and figured out how to tag up and advance on a fly ball.
One day after his 42nd birthday, Colon was gifted with six runs of support, including solo home runs by Lucas Duda and Michael Cuddyer and a three-run shot in the sixth by Wilmer Flores that made him a winner.
The Mets' bounce-back performance came on the heels of a meeting manager Terry Collins called in Pittsburgh with perfect timing before a return to Citi Field, where the Mets are 18-6, and a game against the Phillies, who are 1-6 against the Mets.
Collins called meetings "overrated," but he sure appreciated how his team responded. "It's huge," he said. "You know when you have a lot of meetings what's going on -- bad things. It always helps when you've got a pro like Bartolo coming the next day. You know exactly what he's going to give you, and he's going to keep you in the game."
The Mets' first seven outs came on strikeouts by Phillies starter Severino Gonzalez, who came in with a 7.11 ERA. "It was a lot of the same that we've seen," Collins said. "We continued to battle and try to get better pitches to hit. The home runs were a big difference today, something we had not been doing."
Despite the early Ks, the Mets took a 1-0 lead in the first when Curtis Granderson singled, Duda was hit by a pitch and Daniel Murphy singled.
Colon faltered after getting the first two outs in the third, allowing an infield hit by Ben Revere, a double by Freddy Galvis and a two-run single by Chase Utley that gave the Phillies a 2-1 lead.
Duda tied it at 2 in the bottom of the inning when he hammered a 1-and-0 fastball into the box just below the Shea Bridge in right-center. Cuddyer began the fourth with a homer to left for a 3-2 Mets lead.
But in the fifth, Colon issued an ill-advised leadoff walk to the pitcher Gonzalez, who moved to third on singles by Galvis and Utley and scored to make it 3-3 on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Howard to deepest center that just missed being a grand slam.
Understanding the urgency of the situation, Colon was happy to deliver for Collins.
"It's really good to be in that position after a meeting like we had yesterday," Colon said through an interpreter. "It's a challenge for me and the rest of the team . . . It means a lot [to have the confidence of] T.C. and the coaching staff. I try to make sure I'm an example for the young guys."
Colon's seventh win, which ties him for the major-league lead, came courtesy of Flores' seventh homer, which is a team high and is tied for the lead among all MLB shortstops. Murphy singled and Cuddyer walked in front of Flores in the sixth. Relievers Alex Torres, Hansel Robles and Jeurys Familia (14th save) held the Phillies hitless in the final three innings.
Notes & quotes: Collins said Matt Harvey might throw batting practice if that helps him stay sharp between starts when Dillon Gee returns and the Mets go to a six-man rotation . . . Gee (groin strain) threw on the side and is scheduled to make a rehab start Wednesday in Binghamton . . . Rehabbing reliever Vic Black retired all three batters he faced Monday in Binghamton.
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