Cespedes, Syndergaard help Mets rout Phillies again, 12-1
NEW YORK (AP) Now that they're finally banging the ball around the yard, the New York Mets are thinking about that late-season charge that carried them all the way to the World Series last year.
Yoenis Cespedes clocked a three-run homer, Kelly Johnson had a pinch-hit grand slam and Noah Syndergaard pitched two-hit ball over seven innings as the resurgent Mets routed the Philadelphia Phillies 12-1 on Saturday.
Asdrubal Cabrera homered for the third time in two games, a two-run drive that put New York ahead against Jeremy Hellickson (10-8). Neil Walker added his 23rd of the season to match a career high, giving the Mets four homers for the second consecutive night in a blowout of Philadelphia.
''It looks like a completely different team,'' Mets manager Terry Collins said. ''The energy is just different in the room right now.''
Alejandro De Aza added a two-run double for the Mets, who won for the sixth time in seven games as they attempt to make a push in the bunched-up NL playoff chase. New York got some help Saturday with losses by Miami and St. Louis and moved within 2 1/2 games of the Cardinals for the league's second wild card.
Cespedes is reminded of last year, when his arrival after a July 31 trade helped the Mets turn a moribund offense into a pennant winner.
''I think the energy,'' he said through a translator, ''right now has taken us back to the last two months of last season.''
''The desire, the motivation,'' he explained.
Jose Reyes and Cabrera each had three hits, once again providing a spark from the top two spots in the lineup since both came off the disabled list. Mostly healthy at last after lagging through much of the summer as one of baseball's weakest offenses, the Mets have totaled 31 runs while winning their past three games. They have 76 runs (6.3 per game) and 22 homers in their last 12.
New York also has posted at least nine runs in three straight games for the first time since June 2012 - and scored nine or more in successive home games for the first time since September 2008.
The team has 87 homers at Citi Field this season, surpassing its previous record of 85 set last year. The ballpark opened in 2009.
Syndergaard (12-7) chipped in with a long double and is 3-0 with a 1.31 ERA in his last three starts.
The only damage against him came on Freddy Galvis' homer in the third, and the big right-hander improved to 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA in four career outings against the Phillies.
''Right now I'm just better able to locate my sinker to both sides of the plate,'' Syndergaard said. ''And my slider's been a lot more consistent.''
The Mets have taken 12 of their past 14 series with Philadelphia.
''It's like they know what's coming,'' Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. ''They just seem to feast on our pitching.''
Hellickson, who had won four consecutive decisions and six of his last seven, allowed a three-run shot to Cespedes that made it 5-1 with two outs in the fourth.
Johnson's drive off Michael Mariot in a six-run seventh was his fourth pinch-hit homer this season. It gave the Mets grand slams in consecutive games for the first time since Carlos Beltran hit both in July 2006.
''Bad pitching,'' Mackanin said. ''Tonight was embarrassing.''
Philadelphia had won Hellickson's previous six starts.
''Just one of those nights. Didn't really have much,'' the right-hander said.
Collins said RHP Rafael Montero will be recalled from Double-A Binghamton to start Monday night against Miami in place of struggling RHP Jacob deGrom, who is skipping a turn. Montero is 1-4 with a 4.45 ERA in 17 major league games, including nine starts.
A few pitches before his home run, Cespedes hit a foul line drive about head high that had Syndergaard darting and ducking out of the way as he took a short lead off third base. ''That was just all reflex. I don't think it was anywhere near me,'' Syndergaard said. The night before, Phillies pitcher Adam Morgan barely evaded serious injury when he ducked underneath Cespedes' scorching liner up the middle.
Mets: Part-time CF Justin Ruggiano went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left shoulder, and INF T.J. Rivera was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas. Fortunately for Rivera, he never left town Friday when he was optioned to the minors to make room for Walker, who came off the paternity leave list. Rivera began getting work in the outfield before the game. ... Slumping RF Jay Bruce was given primarily a ''mental'' day off, according to Collins, though the manager said Bruce's nagging right calf did act up Friday night as he struck out all four times and was booed by the home crowd.
Phillies: RHP Vince Velasquez (8-6, 4.31 ERA) has lost three straight starts and is winless in seven outings since July 8.
Mets: RHP Robert Gsellman makes his first major league start in the series finale Sunday. He won his debut Tuesday at St. Louis with 3 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of injured Jonathon Niese.