By Anthony DiComo and Stephen Pianovich
PHILADELPHIA -- For the Mets, the final week of the regular season is about resting some of their players, gleaning insights into others and -- atop the list -- doing their best to claim home-field advantage for the National League Division Series.
But the Phillies prevented them from checking off all those boxes in a 4-3 win on Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park, where the Mets leaned on Bartolo Colon for just five innings before turning to Jon Niese for his second career relief appearance. The loss shaved the Mets' home-field advantage lead to one game over the Dodgers, who defeated the Giants on Tuesday night to win the NL West. The Mets hold the tiebreaker in that race. Watch the remaining games on MLB.TV.
"We had our chances," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "It's just one of those things."
Colon made just one significant mistake, allowing Darin Ruf's three-run homer in the first inning. But that plus an RBI single from Aaron Altherr in the seventh was all the Phillies needed; starter David Buchanan gave them 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball and manager Pete Mackanin pieced together another 13 outs from his bullpen. The only blemish for Buchanan was Lucas Duda's solo homer in the fourth. Duda added a two-run homer off Ken Giles in the ninth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Ruf's first-inning homer: The first baseman blasted a 1-2 offering from Colon over the wall of the deepest part in Citizens Bank Park to give his team an early 3-0 lead. It was Ruf's 11th homer of the season and sixth in his last 21 games. Odubel Herrera and Altherr each hit a single in the inning and scored on Ruf's homer.
"Ruf's three-run homer, I think, really gave us some confidence going into the game," Mackanin said. "It was nice to see him come through. He's been swinging the bat better against right-handers."
Leaving 'em loaded: The Mets had a prime opportunity to claw back into the game in the sixth inning, when a single, a Phillies fielding error and a pinch-hit walk loaded the bases with one out. But Curtis Granderson popped up and David Wright flied out, preserving Philadelphia's 3-1 lead.
Duda double smash: Duda nearly singlehandedly brought the Mets back into the game, homering in the fourth before launching a two-run shot in the ninth. He now has 27 long balls on the season, which is worth noting considering his streakiness. Duda hit his career-high 30th in his final at-bat of 2014.
"He's swinging the bat very well," Collins said. "And just when we need him to get hot, too."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Phillies reliever Adam Loewen collected his first Major League win since April 21, 2007. The lefty only faced one batter, but he struck out the red-hot Duda to end the fifth inning. Loewen's last win came when he was pitching for the Orioles against the Blue Jays. Since his last win, Loewen -- who recorded a hit to start the home half of the fifth -- had a stint as an outfielder and appeared in 14 games with Toronto in 2011.
UPDATING HIS RESUME
When the bullpen door swung open in the bottom of the sixth inning, it was not a typical reliever who emerged but left-hander Niese, who is converting to relief work in advance of the postseason. The Mets plan to test Niese in his new role multiple times down the stretch, with an eye toward potentially using him as a reliever in October. Niese allowed a leadoff single to Cody Asche, who was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double, and two more hits in the seventh, but Yoenis Cespedes' outfield assist prevented the damage from being worse than a lone run on the left-hander's 1 2/3-inning line. More >
CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE
In a light moment, Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud exchanged some friendly words with the Phillies' pinch-hitter in the bottom of the seventh, for good reason: The batter was Chase d'Arnaud, his brother and a recent callup. The two were appearing in the same big league game for the first time in their careers. With Travis calling the pitches, Chase struck out in his only plate appearance. More >
"I still can't believe that happened," Travis d'Arnaud said. "I still vividly remember being 6 and 8 [years old], playing tape ball in the driveway and knowing that I could throw that back-door two-seam to him. Fortunately, Niese was able to execute a couple of those."
WHAT'S NEXT Mets: With the Mets pushing back Steven Matz's start a day due to back soreness, right-hander Logan Verrett (1-2, 3.40 ERA) will start their 7:05 p.m. ET game against the Phillies on Wednesday. Verrett has started three times already this season for the Mets in place of Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom.
Phillies:Alec Asher (0-5, 7.52 ERA) will make his sixth Major League start. Though he struggled through the first four, the 23-year-old righty kept the Marlins mostly quiet last Thursday. Asher gave up just one run on three hits in seven innings.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. Stephen Pianovich is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.