PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies may play in Citizens Bank Park, but the Mets made it clear that they are the landlords. That arrangement was emphasized on Wednesday night with a 5-4 victory to complete a three-game sweep.
Zack Wheeler bounced back from a rough season debut to win his first game since 2014. Michael Conforto smacked a home run in just his second start of the season. Fill-in closer Addison Reed picked up his third save in the last four games. And the Mets (6-3) won their fourth straight, despite reliever Hansel Robles surrendering a sixth-inning grand slam to Maikel Franco, all after taking over for Wheeler with a 5-0 lead.
“I was very happy and very impressed with the way he threw the ball tonight,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
While Conforto likely won’t be in the starting lineup, he showed why Mets officials are strongly considering keeping him on the big league roster, even after centerfielder Juan Lagares returns in the next few days from his strained oblique.
In the leadoff spot for a healthy Curtis Granderson, Conforto scored three runs. He scored in the first after a leadoff hit, he homered to the opposite field in the third, then scored again in the fifth after working a walk.
“I don’t see why not,” Conforto said of Collins putting him in the leadoff off. “I’ll hit there every day if he wants me to.”
Granderson likely will return to centerfield on Thursday when the Mets begin a four-game set in Miami against the Marlins, part of Conforto’s uncomfortable reality in a crowded outfield. But Collins said he’ll try to get more action this weekend for Conforto, who has homered in each of his two starts.
Said Collins: “Each and every game he plays, I think he’s driven to have a good game so he continues to get opportunities, and I salute that.”
In a way, the same could be said for Wheeler, the 26-year-old righty who has endured a nightmarish two-year rehab from elbow surgery. Wheeler (1-1) was charged with three runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings, good enough to win for the first time since Sept. 19, 2014.
“It’s a big weight off my shoulders to be honest,” Wheeler said. “You come back and you don’t know if you’ll be throwing as hard, you don’t know if you’ll be able to get guys out, you don’t know if you’ll be able to win. So, it’s nice to sort of achieve these small personal goals since the start of spring training really.”
Wheeler cruised through his first five innings before encountering trouble in the sixth. After tossing five scoreless frames, Wheeler allowed two hits and walked Odubel Herrera to load the bases with two outs. Collins summoned Robles, whose first-pitch fastball to Franco ended up in the stands.
Robles has allowed at least one run three of his first six outings of the season. But he successfully navigated the rest of the inning.
Wheeler’s first start came last week in cold and windy conditions at Citi Field. He surrendered six runs and lasted just four innings. Be he showed improvement, maintaining his fastball velocity throughout while keeping the ball on the ground.
Most importantly, Wheeler commanded his secondary offerings, working ahead of the count by throwing them for strikes.
“Fortunately, we hung on and got him a win,” Collins said. “He deserved it the way he pitched. That’s a long road back to his first win in a long time.”
One night after hitting three homers, Yoenis Cespedes knocked in a pair of runs. Asdrubal Cabrera finished with two RBIs of his own. With Conforto’s homer, the Mets have hit a longball in eight straight games.
For the first time since Aug. 2015, the Mets completed a sweep of at least three games against the Phillies in Philadelphia.
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