Mets top Phils with rallies, hold top WC spot

Mets top Phils with rallies, hold top WC spot

NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins may grumble at the notion of baseball's expanded rosters in September. But rules are rules, and Collins is doing his best to exploit them, hoping this everyone-plays brand of September baseball will help his club reach October.

Collins used six pitchers and 20 players Friday in a 10-5 win over the Phillies, extending many of them beyond their usual roles to give the Mets a 1 1/2-game National League Wild Card lead over the Cardinals. With eight games to play, New York also moved a game up on the Giants for the best record among NL Wild Card contenders.

"It was an incredible team victory today," said outfielder Michael Conforto. "We've been through a lot just over the course of this season. So many things have happened. There's a lot of fight in this team, and we're going to keep playing until we get to where we want to be -- and that's in the playoffs."

Conforto hit his first home run since August for the Mets, who toppled Philadelphia's bullpen with a six-run rally in the fifth inning and a three-run outburst in the seventh. Though the Phillies fought back on a Darin Ruf two-run homer in the sixth inning and loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, they never found consistent answers for New York's relievers.

Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson could not escape the fourth inning, giving up six runs on seven hits and three walks. Collins did not have nearly as much patience with rookie Gabriel Ynoa, removing him after only two innings. Making his second career start in place of Jacob deGrom, who recently underwent season-ending elbow surgery, Ynoa allowed two runs on five hits.

Ynoa fans Hellickson

With regular setup man Addison Reed and closer Jeurys Familia both unavailable, Hansel Robles recorded the final eight outs for the Mets to earn his first career save.

"They threw a bullpen game against us, so that's tough to take," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "That was a shame. Helly [Hellickson] just wasn't at his best."

Robles' first MLB save

Batting around: Conforto's three-run, opposite-field home run off Frank Herrmann capped a six-run fifth for the Mets, who entered the inning trailing, 3-1. After a hit and two walks loaded the bases, Curtis Granderson and Kelly Johnson plated three runs on a pair of RBI singles and a Roman Quinn fielding error. That brought up Conforto, who gave the Mets a four-run lead with his first home run since Aug. 7.

Conforto's three-run jack

"That at-bat was kind of the epitome of what I've been working on, laying off of pitches that are tough for me to hit until I get something that I can do damage with," said Conforto, who started over slumping Jay Bruce in right field. "That was a good at-bat for me, and a feeling that I can hold onto." More >

Hellickson's early exit leads to shaky 'pen: Hellickson pitched the second shutout of his career in his last start on Saturday against the Marlins, but he allowed those six runs against the Mets. The Phillies' bullpen allowed four more runs to prevent any shot at a comeback.

Hellickson fans Granderson

"Fastball command, just couldn't find it," Hellickson said. "I feel like it's a problem every time I come here. In one inning, I lose the fastball command. I kind of get a little too predictable and then, before I know it, I'm at 30-35 pitches in the inning."

Bullpen carousel: After using nine relievers in Thursday's 11-inning walkoff win over the Phillies, Collins began mixing and matching early on Friday. But he saved his most impactful bullpen decisions for the seventh. After Erik Goeddel put two men on base with no outs, Collins stuck with the right-hander for Cameron Rupp, who flied out. From there, Collins turned to lefty Josh Edgin, who allowed a weak ground-ball single to load the bases. Once more, Collins emerged from the dugout, this time to summon Robles, who coaxed an inning-ending double-play ball from pinch-hitter Tommy Joseph.  More >

Reyes turns two

Ruf finally gets on board: Ruf had not had a plate appearance since Sept. 13, but he hit a pinch-hit, two-run home run to left-center field in the sixth inning to cut the Mets' lead to 7-5. The homer -- Ruf's first of the season -- left his bat at 109.6 mph, making it the ninth-hardest homer the Phillies have hit this season, according to Statcast™. It also traveled a projected 450 feet from home plate, making it the fifth-longest homer the Phillies have hit.

Ruf's two-run dinger

"It would have been tough to look back on the year after hitting 14 homers in '13 and 12 last year to be shut out an entire year," Ruf said. "It would have been tough, so I'm glad I got one." More >

"You come to the park these days, you know you're going to get into the game." -- Collins, on using 20 players Friday, one day after using a franchise-record 27

Fans have taken notice of Mets shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera's grimaces on the field, playing through varying degrees of left knee pain since March. So when Cabrera stayed in the game after fouling a ball off his right leg in the fifth inning, hobbling around home plate for several moments alongside trainer Ray Ramirez, the Citi Field crowd gave him a standing ovation. Cabrera went on to walk and score as part of the Mets' six-run rally, leaving the game after seven innings.

Cabrera fouls pitch off his knee

Collins called Cabrera's removal a precaution, saying he hopes to give the shortstop a game off on Saturday. But when told of his manager's plan, Cabrera cautioned: "I don't think that's going to happen."

Phillies: Phillies right-hander Alec Asher (1-0, 2.16 ERA) will try to play spoiler Saturday night at 7:10 p.m. ET against the Mets at Citi Field. It is not out of the question, as Asher has not allowed more than two runs in each of his three starts this season, although he lasted just 4 1/3 innings Sunday against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.

Mets: With Noah Syndergaard recovering from strep throat, left-hander Sean Gilmartin (0-0, 4.76 ERA) will start Saturday in his place against the Phillies. Gilmartin has not thrown more than 15 pitches in an outing since August, so he isn't likely to last beyond the middle innings.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.