PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bartolo Colon isn't too old to try new things.
The big right-hander tossed five-hit ball and struck out eight in seven sharp innings, Michael Cuddyer hit a long homer and the NL East-leading New York Mets beat the Philadelphia Phillies 9-4 on Wednesday night.
Colon (11-11) bounced back from a rough outing in Colorado, helping the Mets improve to 18-6 since July 31. They took a 6 1-2 game lead over second-place Washington, which lost 6-5 to San Diego.
"This is the most I threw breaking balls in my entire career," Colon said through an interpreter.
The 42-year-old began using his change-up more when pitching coach Dan Warthen suggested it after the Phillies got three hits in the first inning.
"I salute him. He did a great job," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We needed a long game and he gave it to us."
Cuddyer had an RBI double in the first inning off Jerad Eickhoff (1-1) and hit a two-run shot into the second deck in left field off Hector Neris in the eighth.
The Mets have dominated the Phillies, winning eight straight, 11 of 12 this season and 23 of the last 28 meetings. They will go for a four-game sweep Thursday night with plenty of visiting fans chanting "Let's Go Mets!" in Philadelphia's cozy ballpark.
"If you want to make the playoffs, you have to beat the teams you should," Mets catcher Anthony Recker said.
After the teams tied an NL record by combining for 11 home runs on Monday, they connected for three on Tuesday and only one on Wednesday.
Eickhoff, acquired in the trade that sent ace left-hander Cole Hamels to Texas, was impressive in his major league debut last Friday at Miami. He earned the win by pitching six scoreless innings. But the Mets jumped on him for three runs in the first.
Cuddyer doubled in a run and scored on Michael Conforto's single to make it 3-0.
Eickhoff retired 16 straight hitters before Conforto hit a two-out double in the sixth. Juan Uribe drove him in with a single for a 4-0 lead.
"I had a little trouble getting settled," Eickhoff said.
The Phillies scored seven runs off Jacob deGrom and five runs off Noah Syndergaard in the first two games of the series, but did nothing against Colon, who entered with a 4.90 ERA.
They rallied against the bullpen in the eighth. Andres Blanco had an RBI groundout against Eric O'Flaherty and Cameron Rupp hit a two-run double off Carlos Torres. Pinch-hitter Jeff Francoeur had an RBI single off Tyler Clippard, but the righty struck out Darnell Sweeney to leave two runners on. Clippard got the final four outs for his 19th save and second with the Mets.
Yoenis Cespedes had an RBI triple in a three-run ninth for New York.
"You talk about hitting being contagious, you stop putting pressure on yourself," Cuddyer said. "Because we have confidence in the guys around us, we've had success."
The Mets have scored 64 runs during a six-game winning streak. They have 84 hits and are batting .347 in those games.
Mets: LHP Steven Matz (lat muscle) allowed one hit over six scoreless innings in a rehab outing for Double-A Binghamton against Erie. He struck out six and walked none, throwing 41 of 56 pitches for strikes. The promising rookie could return to the major league rotation by next week. ... 3B David Wright had a scheduled day off. He was 2 for 9 with a homer in his first two games back after missing four months because of a back issue.
Phillies: 3B Maikel Franco (left wrist fracture), on the DL since Aug. 12, is expected to return this season, according to interim manager Pete Mackanin.
Mets LHP Jonathon Niese (8-9, 3.80) faces Phillies RHP Aaron Harang (5-14, 4.67) in the series finale. Niese is 10-6 with a 2.77 ERA in 21 career starts vs. Philadelphia. The Mets are 7-0 in his last seven starts against the Phillies. Harang is 6-7 with a 3.94 ERA in 15 starts vs. New York.