Mets look to pull off sweep of Phillies (Jul 02, 2017)

BY AP • July 2, 2017

NEW YORK -- For the New York Mets, the first two games of a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies have continued to infuse them with the belief they can make a run at a playoff spot. For the Phillies, the two games have offered a pair of reminders that there's no waking up from a nightmarish season.

The Mets will look to complete a sweep of the struggling Phillies on Sunday afternoon when the National League East rivals meet in the series finale at Citi Field. New York's Rafael Montero (1-4, 5.63 ERA) is scheduled to face Philadelphia's Nick Pivetta (1-4, 5.40 ERA) in a matchup of young right-handers.

The Mets won their fourth straight game Saturday, when Asdrubal Cabrera hit the go-ahead home run in the seventh inning of a 7-6 victory. New York (38-42) trailed 2-1 and 6-3 before earning its seventh win in the last eight games.

"These are the games when you've got to say to yourself, look, we're not out of it," Mets manager Terry Collins said following Saturday's game. "We've been preaching that we have a good team."

The recent run by the Mets has pulled them within 8 1/2 games of the NL East-leading Washington Nationals. New York visits Washington for a three-game series against the Nationals beginning Monday.

The Phillies (26-53), meanwhile, have the worst record in baseball and are in danger of suffering the franchise's first 100-loss season since 1961. Philadelphia arrived in New York after sweeping a two-game series from the Seattle Mariners but needs to win Sunday to avoid being swept by an opponent for the 11th time this season.

The consecutive losses to the Mets have been frustrating for the Phillies, who dropped a 2-1 decision on Friday before stranding the tying run at third base in the ninth inning Saturday, when No. 3 hitter Aaron Altherr led off the frame with a double.

"Those are the kind of games that you have to win," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said afterward. "Even in the ninth with the leadoff double, I thought we were going to get something going with the middle of our lineup coming up. And we just couldn't get a run across."

The 26-year-old Montero earned the win in his most recent start June 25, when he allowed one run over 5 2/3 innings as the Mets beat the San Francisco Giants, 8-2. It was the first win for Montero since Sept. 10, 2014.

The strong outing was the third straight for Montero, who allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings of relief in his previous two appearances and lowered his overall ERA from 8.24 to 5.62 in June.

The 24-year-old Pivetta took the loss last Monday after giving up a career-high six runs over a career-low 2 2/3 innings as the Phillies fell to the Arizona Diamondbacks, 6-1. It was the ninth big league start for Pivetta, who also set a single-game high by issuing five walks.

Montero is 0-1 with a 12.00 ERA in five career games (one start) against the Phillies. Pivetta has never faced the Mets.

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