NEW YORK (AP) Bartolo Colon kept his helmet on this time.
A day after his 42nd birthday, the rotund pitcher moved into a tie for the major league lead with his seventh win and singled for his second hit in a decade. The New York Mets beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-3 Monday to stop a three-game losing streak.
”I wish I got cheers for a foul ball,” teammate Michael Cuddyer said. ”He’s must-see TV when he comes to the plate.”
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Wilmer Flores hit a tiebreaking three-run shot off Justin De Fratus in the sixth inning for his career-best seventh homer this season. The Mets improved to 18-6 at home – they are 7-15 on the road.
Colon has been a big part of the Citi Field entertainment. His body resembles that of a sumo wrestler more than a 21st-century pitcher, with a thick midsection and bulging biceps. When he poked an opposite-field single to right at Atlanta on April 12, his helmet spun off in the batter’s box. This time, he hooked a 77 mph slider from Severino Gonzalez into left, but the helmet remained atop his head.
”It’s been good. This year it’s only dropped once,” he said through a translator. ”I love to get a hit just to hear the fans cheering and get all crazy about me getting on base.”
He took second on Curtis Granderson’s single and advanced to third on Juan Lagares’ flyout to center. In his previous start against St. Louis, Colon neglected to tag up at third on Cuddyer’s flyout to Randal Grichuk. This time, Granderson gave him a heads up.
”Make sure you tag – or you can steal the bag,” Colon remembered being told.
He had struggled in his previous two outings, allowing 15 runs in losses to Milwaukee and St. Louis. He gave up Chase Utley’s two-run single in the third and Ryan Howard’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the fifth, a ball Lagares caught on the warning track in center.
”I thought I had it,” Howard said.
Colon (7-3) allowed six hits in six innings, benefiting from plate umpire Larry Vanover’s seemingly wide strike zone. Five of Colon’s six strikeouts were looking, including Ben Revere, Freddy Galvis and Utley opening the game.
”He’s been pitching for 50 years,” Mets manager Terry Collins said playfully. ”I just think it’s a matter of him locating.”
Colon tied Michael Wacha of St. Louis and Felix Hernandez of Seattle for the big league lead in wins.
”There’s not a whole lot that Bartolo does that does not entertain us and everybody else in the stadium,” Mets catcher Anthony Recker said. ”He’s fun to watch – all the time.”
Flores also has delighted Mets fans.
With the score 3-all, Daniel Murphy led off the sixth with a single off Elvis Araujo (1-1), De Fratus walked Cuddyer, and Flores homered off the original 16-foot left-field wall, over the 8-foot blue fence erected in front of it for the 2012 season.
Jeurys Familia pitched the ninth for his 14th save in 15 chances, completing the Mets’ 18th win in 23 games against the Phillies.
Collins held a rare in-season team meeting after Sunday’s defeat in Pittsburgh.
”This isn’t football,” he said. ”You give more than one speech a month, they’re going to turn you off.”
FOR THE BIRDS
Revere shooed away a pair of pigeons with his bat in the third, and they were joined by a third bird before the fowl headed toward first.
”Just trying to get them out of the way,” Recker said. ”I thought it was pretty funny when everyone booed Revere. He wasn’t actually trying to hit them. Had to at least try to scare them out of the way.”
New York’s Lucas Duda hit a third-inning solo homer into the bridge seats in right-center. A white-uniformed Navy sailor watching the Memorial Day game retrieved the ball. Cuddyer homered into the second deck in left in the fourth.
Recker stole second in the sixth with Jeanmar Gomez on the mound, the second swipe of his career and the first for the Mets since May 17.
”He threw over twice before he even threw a pitch home,” Recker said. ”It gets you fired up a little bit – all right, you want to throw over, then I’ll go.”
Mets: C Travis D’Arnaud, who broke his right pinkie on April 19, is slated to play five innings Tuesday in extended spring training. He could start an injury rehab stint at St. Lucie the following day, move to Triple-A Las Vegas later in the week and rejoin the Mets during a trip to San Diego and Arizona from June 1-7.
Mets: Jacob deGrom (5-4), coming off eight scoreless innings of one-hit ball against St. Louis, starts for New York on Tuesday against Jerome Williams (3-4).