NEW YORK (AP) –Cy Young Award nominee Zack Wheeler burned out early, MVP nominee Bryce Harper was mostly silent on the plate and the Philadelphia Phillies found a way anyway.
“If you want to win four, five games in a row, you want to win playoffs, it has to come from everyone,” said infielder Brad Miller.
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With a long-term chance of an October splash still in play, the star-motivated Phillies built on their depth on Friday night.
Wheeler limited the damage in a short but effective outing against his former team, Miller hit a decisive homerun and Philadelphia held off the New York Mets 4-3 in a showdown between the teams clinging to the aspirations of the playoffs.
The Phillies remained 2 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the NL’s second wild card, with San Diego and Cincinnati also on the way. They were three games behind the NL East leader Atlanta on Friday with the Mets 2 1/2 games behind.
Miller gave the Phillies a 2-1 lead in the fifth with a solo shot, his 19th homer of the season. Freddy Galvis and Matt Vierling had sacrificial flies, and Didi Gregorius took the lead with a late RBI brace. Harper was 1 for 4 with a double a night after hitting a home run and leading four in a savage 17-8 win over the Chicago Cubs.
“I feel like we’re scratching and scratching,” Miller said.
The Philadelphia reliever box – which leads the majors with 32 missed saves – nearly gave up Wheeler’s lead. Archie Bradley allowed two runs in the eighth on doubles from Francisco Lindor, Michael Conforto and Kevin Pillar before Ian Kennedy took over and secured the last of the round.
Kennedy also threw a ninth 1-2-3 for his 23rd stoppage of the season, including seven since a deadline trade from Texas. Brandon Nimmo flew to the left center warning track for the final, and the Mets (72-76) fell to 2-15 in their last 17 one-point games.
“We didn’t mathematically come out,” Nimmo said. “Crazy things have happened in the past. They made films about it. It can happen.”
Wheeler (14-9) allowed a run and struck out six strikes in over five innings, walking one and diving two on 93 shots. The prospect Cy Young reduced his ERA to 2.83, stretched his league-leading punchout tally to 231 and reached 200 innings in one season for the first time.
“It’s just being consistent, throwing strikes,” Wheeler said. “When you look back that way, you feel like it paid off. “
Gregorius made a dazzling defensive gem off the shortstop in the seventh, diving to his right for Jonathan Villar’s floor and – from his stomach – knocking the ball 30 feet behind his back in the second for a forced out.
“It’s one of the best defensive games I’ve ever seen,” said Phillies manager Joe Girardi.
Girardi was sent off on seventh after third baseman Carlos Torres ruled that Philadelphia’s Matt Joyce had failed to verify his swing. Girardi started arguing from the canoe and raised an arm as he did so. He said Torres used this as a rationale for directing him.
“I’m sure I shouldn’t be tossed for putting my hand up,” Girardi said. “I mean, if I put my hand up and put four fingers down, that’s a different story.”
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Taijuan Walker (7-10) threw the ball two runs in five innings for New York, allowing three hits and three strikeouts. He was lifted after 88 pitches, a sign the Mets could reduce his workload after injuries and the pandemic limited the 29-year-old All-Star to 67 1/3 innings from 2018-20.
“I’m not making the call, it’s up to them and that’s what it is,” Walker said, adding, “I really felt like they should have given me the chance to go back for the sixth. “
Wheeler, 31, left the Mets for rival Phillies with a five-year, $ 118 million free agent contract ahead of the 2020 season and has mostly tormented New York City ever since. He improved to 4-1 with a 2.62 ERA in nine starts against his former club.
Wheeler threw a shutout against the Mets in their previous meeting on August 8 and came in with 22 straight scoreless innings against them – most by a pitcher against his former team since Doyle Alexander’s 26 innings run against Baltimore in 1986. to 1988.
Wheeler’s streak ended with a pullout in the fourth, when Javier Báez had a single right-baseman put the score to 1.
The right-hander was pulled out in the sixth after singles from Lindor and Pete Alonso. José Alvarado relieved and escaped to maintain a 2-1 lead.
“Wheels has taken us all year round,” Girardi said. “He’s been amazing for us. Being able to seek it out in order to change is good.
IT’S A BRAKE
The game lasted 3 hours 52 minutes.
“It’s tough to play a 4-3 4-3 game, but we found a way,” Girardi said.
Philly: C JT Realmuto was back in the lineup a day after being hit in the left elbow by a pitch. The x-rays were negative.
Mets: Nimmo (right hamstring strain) was activated from the injured list and hit second. … RHP Jacob deGrom (forearm crunch) has been feeling great after a bullpen this week and plans to throw another one this weekend. … RHP Noah Syndergaard (Tommy John surgery) will face hitters at Citi Field or in minor league rehab this weekend. … LHP Thomas Szapucki was recalled from Syracuse Triple-A and placed on the 60-day injured list due to ulnar nerve transposition surgery. … RHP Jake Reed was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. … RHP Jordan Yamamoto (right shoulder discomfort) was reinstated from the 60-day injured list and selected for the triple A.
Phillies RHP Aaron Nola (7-8, 4.58 ERA) faces Mets RHP Carlos Carrasco (1-2, 5.59). Nola has a 6.41 ERA over four starts since winning a perfect seventh inning game against the Padres on August 21.
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