PHILADELPHIA – Bryce Harper homered, Kyle Gibson pitched six strong innings and drove in the go-ahead run, and the streaking Philadelphia Phillies won their sixth straight game to take over first place in the NL East with a 4-2 victory over the slumping New York Mets on Friday night.
Didi Gregorius also went deep for the Phillies, who extended the longest active winning streak in the majors and moved four games above .500. They are a half-game ahead of the Mets.
“It’s so much fun to play in games that matter,” Harper said.
The Mets, who have lost seven of nine, fell out of first place for the first time since May 7. Jonathan Villar homered in the ninth for New York, which finished with five hits.
“We’re just in a little bit of a rut,” starter Marcus Stroman said. “It’s a 162-game season.”
Gibson (8-3) allowed one run and four hits with three strikeouts and four walks. The 33-year-old right-hander was acquired from Texas on July 30 and quickly has paid dividends by winning his first two starts for Philadelphia with a pair of quality outings.
“I can kind of get used to these big moments and big spots and a lot on the line,” he said. “That was a lot of fun out there.”
Stroman (7-11) gave up two runs and five hits in five innings.
There was an energized atmosphere in Philadelphia from a crowd of 30,106 that included many Mets fans who made the short trip down I-95. Loud chants of “Let’s Go Mets!” broke out in the third inning, only to be put down by a chorus of boos from the Phillies faithful.
Harper sent the home fans into a frenzy in the eighth when he followed serenades of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” by lacing a 98 mph fastball from Edwin Diaz into the bushes over the wall in straightaway center for a two-run shot. It was the 19th homer and third in four games for Harper, putting Philadelphia ahead 4-1.
“Whenever you have a fan base that does that, they make us want to be better, they make us want to be great,” Harper said. “There’s nothing better. That’s why I came here. That’s why I wanted to be a Phillie because of this fan base. It fires me up, it fires us all up. I hope they keep coming, keep showing out. It just excites me.”
Ian Kennedy, acquired with Gibson in the trade-deadline deal with the Rangers, recovered from Villar’s leadoff homer in the ninth for his 17th save and first with the Phillies.
The home crowd also did plenty of cheering in the fifth when the Phillies went ahead for good. Brad Miller led off with a towering fly that just eluded leaping right fielder Michael Conforto and bounded hard off the wall toward the infield. Conforto misplayed a ball in the outfield during New York’s 4-2 loss to the Marlins on Thursday and it appeared he could have made the catch on Miller’s fly, though it was a tough play.
After an out, Gibson laced a single past the left side of the drawn-in Mets infield for his first career RBI, putting Philadelphia up 2-1. Gibson, who pitched in the American League for his entire career until last week’s trade, entered 4 for 26 with 14 strikeouts in his nine seasons.
“What a big knock,” Harper said.
Gregorius put Philadelphia ahead 1-0 in the second with a towering homer, driving a 3-2 slider from Stroman into the second deck in right field.
New York tied it in the third on Dominic Smith’s two-out RBI single to right.
The Mets couldn’t capitalize on a golden opportunity in the fourth when they loaded the bases with no outs. Stroman struck out looking and Brandon Nimmo grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Stroman was instructed by manager Luis Rojas not to swing to stay out of the double play, and Nimmo explained that he was fooled by Gibson's cutter, a pitch he wasn't expecting.
Philadelphia overcame shoddy infield fielding for the victory. Alec Bohm made a pair of errors at third base and Miller booted a ball at first. Mets shortstop Javier Báez also committed an error in the eighth.
The Mets were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
“We have to get it going,” Rojas said. “Our offense needs to come with the rest of our areas so we can be a complete team.”
The Phillies honored former president and CEO David Montgomery in a pregame ceremony. Montgomery spent nearly 50 years in the Phillies organization and was posthumously honored last month by the Hall of Fame with the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award.
Mets: Diaz returned from the paternity list after missing two games. RHP Jake Reed was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse.
Phillies: 1B Rhys Hoskins (groin) didn’t play. … OF Andrew McCutchen (left knee soreness) is on target to return to the lineup when he becomes eligible on Wednesday. … Zach Eflin (knee tendinitis) has not progressed to throwing off a mound yet. Eflin has been out since July 21. … Gregorius was hit on the left elbow by a pitch in the sixth and was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the eighth. Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi said afterward that Gregorius playing on Saturday is “really in question.”
Mets RHP Tylor Megill (1-1, 2.68 ERA) opposes Philadelphia LHP Ranger Suarez (5-3, 1.04) on Saturday in the middle game of the series.
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