PHILADELPHIA (AP) For once, Zack Wheeler was able to smile after a start. The rest of the Mets were pretty happy, too.
Wheeler struck out nine in 6 1-3 innings and Chris Young hit a two-run homer to lead New York to a 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night in the opener of a rare five-game series.
Wheeler (2-5) looked nothing like the pitcher who entered with a 4.63 ERA and one win in 10 starts this season. Mixing a fastball that hit the high 90s and a slow, knee-buckling breaking ball, the right-hander retired eight of the first 10 batters via strikeout.
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Wheeler had sent down 14 straight batters until Marlon Byrd lofted the first pitch he saw with one out in the seventh over the wall in right for his seventh homer. That was the end of the evening for Wheeler, who matched his season high in innings while giving up the lone run and four hits with no walks.
”It feels really good, obviously,” Wheeler said. ”I can actually smile after a start now. I knew I had it today. I could locate all my pitches. It’s easy when you can locate all your pitches and everything’s working.”
Mets manager Terry Collis said Wheeler ”pretty much took control of the game. He really was throwing well. Tonight he dominated this game.”
The Mets, who opened an 11-game road trip, matched a season best with their third straight victory while beating the Phillies for the sixth straight time at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies set a season high with 15 strikeouts against four Mets pitchers.
”Wheeler had real good stuff and we just couldn’t pull the trigger on his fastball,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. ”We couldn’t get anything going.”
The series originally was scheduled for four games, but the teams will make up their April 30 rainout on Monday, which originally was a day off for both teams.
Jenrry Mejia struck out the side in the ninth for his fifth save in as many chances. Mejia hasn’t allowed an earned run in nine relief outings since being moved to the bullpen on May 12 after making seven starts.
”The entire pitching tonight. . You’re just sitting in the dugout saying, `Wow!”’ Collins said. ”Good stuff, good location, really a well-pitched game.”
David Buchanan (1-1), who was making his second career start in place of injured left-hander Cliff Lee (15-day DL, left elbow), left after giving up four runs – three earned – and seven hits with two strikeouts and walks. The righty earned the victory in his major league debut with a five-inning, two-run outing in Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Dodgers.
Young, who entered with three hits in his last 35 at-bats, put the Mets in front 3-0 with a drive to left in the fourth. Both Collins and Young hope it’s a sign of better things to come for the outfielder, who entered batting .220.
”He’s got to get on track, and the home run was really big for him,” Collins said. ”He’s hit some balls hard with nothing to show for it, so I think tonight’s a big game.”
Said Young, ”I felt like I was aggressive all night. I felt good about the pitches I did swing at, even the outs I had. That’s a good start. Today was probably the best day I felt, not going by the results but simply the pitch selection.”
New York added an unearned run in the fifth when Curtis Granderson walked with the bases loaded in an inning that was extended by third baseman Cesar Hernandez’s throwing error.
Ryan Howard, who hit a walkoff homer in Wednesday’s win over the Rockies, went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts. Howard entered with a hit in 12 straight games against New York, batting .417 with four homers and 13 RBIs over the stretch.
NOTES: New York C Travis d’Arnaud went 0 for 4 in his first game since being activated from the 7-day DL due to a concussion he sustained May 13. … Mets 3B David Wright went 1 for 5 with a single. His 19 career homers at Citizens Bank Park are the most of any visiting player. … Granderson went 0 for 2, extending his hitless streak to 0 for 16. … Mets RHP Rafael Montero (0-2, 4.96) opposes Philadelphia RHP A.J. Burnett (3-4, 3.51) on Friday.