So understand that the 7-2 victory prompted neither celebration nor relief. The Mets just put it in their pocket with the 71 victories that had preceded it and went home. Their lead was back to 13 games, their sense of self unshaken by 13-0, 11-4 and 3-0 losses in the first three games.
"The best teams lose three straight," David Wright said on Wednesday night. On Thursday, the best team didn't lose a fourth.
The Carlos brothers -- Beltran and Delgado -- saw to that. They were a formidable tandem, combining for three home runs and a Carlos Cycle, the triple provided by the lumbering first baseman, not the fleet center fielder.
Delgado, his bat dormant for days, also hit two home runs and a sacrifice fly and drove in four runs. Beltran hit a home run, a double and two singles and scored twice in the victory -- the Mets' ninth in 16 games against the Phillies -- that rejected Philadelphia's attempt to put its winning percentage at .500 for the first time since June 19.
John Maine was the beneficiary of the Mets' return to normalcy. His winning percentage improved to .500 with his third victory, his third without a loss in his last six starts.
"He's making a case to be in the back end of the rotation," Randolph said.
Maine surrendered eight hits -- one was Ryan Howard's 42nd home run -- walked none and struck out four in six-plus innings. He survived, then wondered about Howard's long fly ball with two runners on base in the sixth.
"How did he reach that pitch? It was way off the plate," Maine said. "He is a big man."
When Maine allowed singles by the first two batters in the seventh inning, he was removed in favor of Chad Bradford, who retired two batters and allowed an infield single.
Bradford has allowed merely nine of 48 inherited runners to score. Pedro Feliciano hasn't been nearly so effective in that regard -- 12 of 32 had scored before Thursday -- but the left-hander struck out Chase Utley with the bases loaded. Aaron Heilman pitched the eighth inning and Billy Wagner the ninth.
It made for a blue-(and orange)-print victory.
"We got back to the way we win," Randolph said.
The Mets scored first, as they have 67 times, and they scored in the first inning -- as they have in 50 games (for a total of 103 runs). Their leadoff man reached base three times -- Jose Reyes had two hits and walked for the 42nd time -- the middle for the order produced four runs and five RBIs, their starter reached the seventh inning, the bullpen achieved nine outs and allowed three base runners, and any defensive missteps were obscured by the overall success.
"It felt like us today," Randolph said. "We got back to our own approach."
Delgado drove in the first run with his sacrifice fly, producing the first Mets RBI from someone other than Reyes since Sunday. After hitting a foul ball down the right-field line that missed being a home run by a few feet, Delgado crushed his 27th home run, his first since July 30, to center on the next pitch in the third. His 28th came in the fifth, also against starting pitcher Scott Mathieson. The second home run followed, by four pitches, Beltran's 34th home run, his 23rd away from Shea Stadium, and prompted the removal of Mathieson (1-4), who has lost twice to the Mets in 13 days. Beltran's RBI was his 99th.
All that from a team that had hit nine home runs in 15 August games -- five by Reyes and no more than one for anyone else.
The Mets had hit home runs in successive plate appearances four times previously this season, but not since Beltran and Delgado did so here against Ryan Madson on June 13.
The two home runs increased Delgado's career total to 397 and put him in 44th place all-time. But he didn't keep alive a remarkable and bizarre home run sequence he initiated in 1998. When Delgado reached his 100th career home run that year, he did so in a two-home run game. When he put his total to 200, he did so with a three-home run game. And it was his four-home run game on Sept. 24, 2003, that put his career total at 300.
He needed to hit five yesterday to maintain the odd ratio.
"So I guess I didn't have such a good game," he said.