PHILADELPHIA — Max Scherzer’s two starts on this road trip have firmly reestablished that he’s capable of leading this Mets rotation.
Two dangerous lineups, two strong performances and, most importantly, two victories for the Mets.
On Saturday, the right-hander followed his best start of the year, an eight-inning gem in Houston, with six strong innings that helped the Mets to a 4-2 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
The win was only the Mets’ fifth in their last 19 games and moved them to six games below .500.
Any shot the Mets have at competing for a postseason berth is predicated mostly upon improved starting pitching, and that starts with Scherzer and co-ace Justin Verlander, both of whom have failed to pitch at a consistent level in the first half.
Scherzer (7-2) departed after throwing 107 pitches.
He allowed two earned runs on seven hits and one walk over six innings with eight strikeouts.
Brooks Raley, Adam Ottavino, and David Robertson combined to record the final nine outs.
Robertson got Bryson Stott to hit into an inning-ending double play in the eighth with the tying runs on base before pitching a scoreless ninth for his 11th save.
Scherzer, to open the road trip on Monday, had dominated the Astros with one run allowed over eight innings with eight strikeouts.
That followed consecutive clunkers against the Braves and Yankees that had helped send the Mets’ rotation into a tailspin.
After two fielding miscues contributed heavily to a 5-1 loss Friday night, the Mets did not commit an error and were close to spotless on defense.
The victory was the Mets’ fourth in five games against the Phillies this season.
Starling Marte’s first-inning homer gave his team a rare lead in the opening frame.
The Mets have been outscored 56-21 in the first inning this year. Marte’s blast was his fourth of the season and first since June 4 against the Blue Jays.
Luis Guillorme’s leadoff triple in the third inning against Christopher Sanchez helped the Mets extend their lead to 2-0 on Brandon Nimmo’s RBI single.
Guillorme was in the lineup at second base as Jeff McNeil rested a sore left wrist from the previous night.
Nick Castellanos launched a homer to center field leading off the fourth inning to cut the Phillies’ deficit to 2-1.
The homer was the fifth allowed by Scherzer in his last four starts.
Stott then singled and stole second with two outs in the inning before Scherzer escaped by retiring Alec Bohm.
Trea Turner tied it 2-2 with an RBI single in the fifth after Brandon Marsh had stroked a leadoff double.
Castellanos delivered a two-out single after Turner’s hit, but Scherzer struck out Bryce Harper to leave the two runners stranded.
The Mets broke the tie in the sixth. Nimmo, Marte and Francisco Lindor singled successively to begin the inning and Pete Alonso’s RBI fielder’s choice gave the Mets a 3-2 lead.
Tommy Pham slapped an RBI single for the other run in the inning.
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