NEW YORK -- Ender Inciarte was safely in Miami with the Braves. No one was going to take this win away from the Mets, who needed it so badly.
They had to work all night and they had to come back three times, but when it was all over Asdrubal Cabrera's three-run home run off Edubray Ramos in the 11th inning gave them a dramatic 9-8 win over the Phillies Thursday night at Citi Field.
The comeback win allowed the Mets to hold onto one of the two Wild Card spots in the National League. After entering the day even with San Francisco and St. Louis, New York remained tied for the first spot with the Giants, who beat the Padres on Thursday, and moved a half-game in front of the Cardinals, who had an off-day.
Thursday's game was the first of the 10, and for the Mets it felt like the most important. They had just been swept at home by the last-place Braves, with Wednesday's game ending when Inciarte reached over the center-field fence to rob Yoenis Cespedes of what would have been a game-winning home run.
"We had to win this game, to set the tone after the series we had with the Braves," said Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, whose two-run home run off Jeanmar Gomez tied it with one out in the ninth.
The Mets had to move past the disappointment, but Inciarte's catch stuck in their minds. Collins said that even though Reyes' home run easily cleared the fence, he got nervous when he saw Phillies right fielder Aaron Altherr at the fence.
"I said, 'Don't tell me he's going to catch it,'" Collins said.He didn't catch it. Nobody did, and the Mets had tied a game they seemed destined to lose after Maikel Franco's three-run home run off Addison Reed put the Phillies ahead 6-4 in the eighth inning.
But the Reyes home run only tied the game, and the Phillies took another lead with two runs off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in the top of the 11th. An A.J. Ellis single made it 7-6, and after Jim Henderson replaced Familia, he walked Franco to force in another run.
All that did was set things up for Cabrera. Ramos walked pinch-hitter Michael Conforto with one out, and Reyes followed with a single. Ramos left a 1-0 slider up and out over the plate, and Cabrera hit it far enough that no Phillies outfielder had any chance to catch it.
"As soon as I hit it, I knew it would be out," Cabrera said.
Ramos was the ninth pitcher used by Phillies manager Pete Mackanin. Collins used 10 pitchers for the Mets.
"That was probably the toughest loss of the season, for me anyway," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "The offense did a heck of a good job coming back twice, going ahead, and we just let them right back in."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Reed gives it up: Collins put Reed in Wednesday's game in the seventh inning, but Thursday Reed was in the more familiar spot: pitching the eighth inning with a lead. He has been outstanding in that role since the Mets acquired him last season, but he wasn't outstanding Thursday. Franco's home run was the first Reed has allowed since Adonis Garcia got him June 23 in Atlanta, and the blown save was his first since Aug. 1 against the Yankees. Before Thursday, Reed had allowed just three earned runs in 23 innings since that blown save.
Be like Maik: The Phillies expected big things from Franco this season, but he has struggled in the middle of the lineup. In fact, his .715 OPS as a third baseman entering the night ranked last out of 20 qualified third basemen. But the 23-year-old showed his potential with a three-run homer in the eighth to give the Phillies a 6-4 lead. It was his 23rd long ball of the season, which ties Ryan Howard for most on the team. Howard hit his 23rd in the fifth, a solo shot to center field. Cameron Rupp also homered.
"Our guys did a great job offensively," Mackanin said. "We just made a lot of bad pitches and let them right back in."
Gomez's freefall continues: It has been a bad month for Gomez, who has an 11.20 ERA (17 earned runs in 13 2/3 innings) in 17 appearances since Aug. 14. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said this week he might try somebody else in the closer's role but just before the game he said he decided to stick with Gomez because he hoped to have him finish the season on a positive note. One wonders if he will get more opportunities with nine games remaining.
"Today was another bad day," Gomez said. "It's a big surprise. The last two weeks have been really tough for me. I don't know why it's happened the last two weeks." More >
Cabrera power: When Collins was looking for a right-handed hitter to hit cleanup Thursday night, he considered the switch-hitting Cabrera. One of Collins' coaches talked him out of it, reasoning that Cabrera is doing so well batting second. Even while playing with a bad knee, Cabrera has hit 22 home runs, his most since 2011. Collins eventually batted T.J. Rivera fourth, behind Cespedes. Rivera scored the first Mets run, coming home on Curtis Granderson's second-inning home run, but Cabrera had a part in a game-tying rally in the seventh. And, of course, he came up in the 11th with the chance to win it. More >
"We played pretty good again today, but we have to finish the job, you know?" -- Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis
"There's going to be some sleeping tonight." -- Collins
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Mets challenged the call on Odubel Herrera's infield single in the eighth inning, just before the Franco home run. Herrera made a head-first dive into the bag and was called safe, and the replay review confirmed the call.
GARCIA HIT HARD, STAYS IN GAME
Phillies right-hander Luis Garcia got drilled with a 105-mph line drive near the inside of his left ankle in the sixth, but remained in the game to pitch a scoreless frame. Pinch-hitter James Loney hit the ball back to Garcia, who deflected it into foul territory just past first base. Howard fielded the ball and dove head first, tagging the bag with his glove before Loney arrived for the second out. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Phillies: Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (12-9, 3.57 ERA) threw the second shutout of his career last weekend against the Marlins. He faces the Mets on Friday night at 7:10 p.m. ET in the second game of a four-game series at Citi Field. Hellickson is 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in four starts this season against the Mets.
Mets: With Steven Matz's hoped-for return called off because of more discomfort in his left shoulder, rookie right-hander Gabriel Ynoa (1-0, 9.00) steps in to make his second Major League start, in Friday night's game against the Phillies at Citi Field.