Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
NEW YORK (AP) — Bartolo Colon and the New York Mets are beginning to play much better. Now they need to start gaining some ground in the standings.
Wilmer Flores launched a grand slam, Asdrubal Cabrera homered from both sides of the plate and even Colon had two helpful hits while pitching the third-place Mets to a 9-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.
Jose Reyes and Cabrera opened the Mets' half of the first inning with consecutive home runs, just the second time the franchise has accomplished that feat. But the defending NL champions (65-63) remained 3 1/2 games behind St. Louis in a crowded race for the league's second wild card.
"We've still got things we've got to make sure we address and stay on top of," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "It's not all a cakewalk from here on out."
The 43-year-old Colon (12-7) carried a two-hitter into the eighth and took over the team lead in wins as New York began a pivotal 10-game homestand by winning for the fifth time in its past six.
The only other time he got two hits in a game was in August 2002 with the Montreal Expos against Milwaukee.
"Colon just seems to own us," Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin said. "We can't square the ball up off of him."
The pudgy pitcher lashed two sharp hits that delighted the crowd, a leadoff double in the fifth and a line-drive single in the sixth. He scored both times, first ahead of Flores' third career slam and then in front of Cabrera's second homer of the night.
The switch-hitting shortstop became the first Mets player to go deep from both sides in one game since Carlos Beltran at Colorado on May 12, 2011.
"It's not easy, but I'm excited that happened," Cabrera said.
A tiring Colon gave up four straight hits to start the eighth but walked off the mound to a warm ovation and acknowledged the crowd by patting his glove and pointing two fingers.
"It means a lot. It took me back to my Cleveland days, when it was a sellout every time I went on the mound, and we feed off the energy," Colon said through a translator.
Phillies left-hander Adam Morgan (1-8) gave up two homers on his first five pitches but recovered. He was trailing 2-1 when Neil Walker, just back from the paternity leave list after the birth of a baby girl, worked a nine-pitch walk to load the bases with two outs in the fifth.
Flores reached down and lofted the next delivery over the fence in left-center. He was summoned out of the dugout for a curtain call.
"It feels good," Flores said. "They make you feel good every time you do something special."
Morgan, who has dropped eight straight decisions, allowed eight hits and struck out eight in five innings. He was fortunate to avoid a serious injury, too, when he barely ducked out of the way of Yoenis Cespedes' screaming line drive.
Morgan, hit by a line drive earlier this season, spun around and crouched in front of the mound as he caught his breath. The crowd let out a trio of collective groans as the big video board showed three replays of the ball whizzing just above Morgan's head.
"I just know that I'm learning. I see improvements. Sure, the home runs and the numbers will tell you different, but I see improvements," Morgan said.
With his 230th career win, Colon passed Luis Tiant for third-most by a pitcher born in Latin America. Dennis Martinez had 245 and Juan Marichal finished with 243.
START ME UP
The only other time the first two Mets hitters homered was in July 2007 when Reyes and Ruben Gotay connected against Cincinnati. Not long before Reyes went deep Friday night, Gotay homered for the Long Island Ducks in the independent Atlantic League. ... Reyes hit his 23rd career leadoff homer and 18th with the Mets, tying teammate Curtis Granderson for the club record.
Mets: CF Justin Ruggiano struck out twice and then left in the sixth with left shoulder discomfort. He was replaced by Alejandro De Aza, who drew a leadoff walk to start a three-run sixth. ... RF Jay Bruce struck out all four times, drawing boos from the home crowd. Bruce was back in the lineup after missing Thursday night's victory in St. Louis. He left Wednesday night's game with cramping in his right calf.
Phillies RHP Jeremy Hellickson (10-7, 3.60 ERA) starts the middle game of the series Saturday night against Noah Syndergaard (11-7, 2.61). Hellickson, set to make his fourth start this season against the Mets, has won four consecutive decisions overall and six of his last seven. Syndergaard, who is 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA in three career starts against Philadelphia, is coming off eight scoreless innings of two-hit ball at San Francisco on Sunday.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.