Lagares provides thump as Mets thwart Phillies

Lagares provides thump as Mets thwart Phillies

PHILADELPHIA -- Mets center fielder Juan Lagares picked the perfect time to snap a slump in Saturday night's 3-2 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

He crushed a two-run home run in the seventh inning against Phillies right-hander Aaron Harang to give the Mets a one-run lead. It snapped an 0-for-16 skid for Lagares, who connected on his first home run of the season.

"It was a little struggle the last couple games," Lagares said. "I went out there looking for a good pitch to hit, and I hit it out."

The Mets' bullpen dodged a major bullet in the eighth inning when Carlos Torres and Alex Torres loaded the bases with one out. But right-hander Buddy Carlyle got Carlos Ruiz to ground into an inning-ending double play to end the threat.

Mets turn two, escape jam

"We kept fighting," Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis said. "We couldn't win today. We'll go after it tomorrow."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Drought buster: Lagares had not collected a hit since the third inning Sunday, including three hitless at-bats against Harang in the first, third and fifth innings. But he turned on Harang's elevated 1-0 fastball in the seventh and sent it over the left-field fence to turn the game. More >

Two mistakes cost Harang: Harang had been pitching efficiently and effectively through six innings when he allowed a leadoff single to Mets pitcher Jon Niese in the seventh. Two batters later, Lagares homered. Harang allowed eight hits, three runs (two earned), one walk, one home run and struck out two in seven innings. More >

Niese delivers: Niese allowed two unearned runs in seven innings. He became the first pitcher to register 10 straight quality starts (six or more innings, three earned runs or fewer) against the Phillies since Greg Maddux did it from 1989-92. Niese has allowed just nine earned runs over his last seven starts against the Phillies, going 5-0 with a 1.61 ERA. More >

Niese's seven strong innings

Blown opportunity: Galvis started the eighth inning with a double against Carlos Torres. He advanced to third on a fielder's choice, then Alex Torres walked Grady Sizemore and Cesar Hernandez to load the bases. The Phillies needed a ball hit out of the infield to score the tying run. Instead, Carlyle entered and induced the rally-killing double play. More >

Hernandez boots it: The Mets had runners at the corners with two outs in the fifth when Lucas Duda hit a routine ground ball to second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who was positioned in shallow right field. Hernandez got caught between hops and did not come up with the ball. The error allowed the Mets to take a 1-0 lead, which loomed large in a one-run outcome. Hernandez said the ball caught the lip of the outfield grass.

"Unfortunate play on a routine ground ball bouncing like that," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "That's an out right there."

Sandberg on tough loss vs. Mets

QUOTABLE
"That's a terrific play by a good player that had kept himself ready to go every day. This is the hardest I've seen him work because he wants to get back out there a lot." -- Mets manager Terry Collins on utility infielder Ruben Tejada, who started the key double play in the eighth

Tejada on Mets' victory

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS

Chase Utley notched a pinch-hit single to right-center field in the ninth inning. It snapped an 0-for-19 slump and pushed his batting average to .109. Utley's average had dropped to .099 following Friday's series opener.

"It's good to see Chase have a real good at-bat there," Sandberg said. "A nice line-drive stroke. Maybe that's something that'll get him started."

WHAT'S NEXT
Mets: Bartolo Colon, 41, will start the Sunday series finale (1:35 p.m. ET) against the Phillies. Colon has had a fantastic start to the year with five wins in six starts and a 2.90 ERA. One of the most compelling aspects has been that he has walked just one hitter all season, going 34 1/3 innings without issuing a free pass.

Phillies: Right-hander Chad Billingsley makes his home debut in Philadelphia and hopes to see improvement from his first start in more than two years. On Monday in Atlanta, he allowed five runs in five innings. Expect to see Utley, Ryan Howard and Cody Asche back in the lineup. They sat Saturday with Niese, a left-hander, making the start for the Mets.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter. Michael Radano is a contributor to MLB.com. Nick Suss is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.