For the second time in two nights, the Mets could revel in a genuine sense of "It's as good as it gets." Their 7-5 decision against the first-place team made them the second-place team with a positive record -- even if it is modest at 14-13. And it prompted this assessment from the winning pitcher: "The season is starting to feel right for us," Pelfrey said, ignoring Wright's passing insult. "Getting past .500, beating these guys, it's starting to feel like we expected. It feels good."
Since losing two home games to the Marlins last week, the Mets have beaten the Phillies three times in four games and twice disposed of the Braves at the Chop Shop. If this isn't a roll, it is at least the shove that leads to one. Now everything has a different, more positive hue to it. Pelfrey's 4-0 record doesn't seem so hollow, even though it comes with a 5.46 ERA and, as Wright referenced, a sequence of innings without strikeouts. Now with Wright, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes, having hit home runs Thursday, Citi Field feels more like an ally than a gigantic abyss.
"It's why it's not wise to make judgments early," Francisco Rodriguez said. "We're playing good now. Last week ... you know."
To win this one, the Mets steamrolled Jamie Moyer, scoring four times in the first inning when Beltran and Wright hit two-run home runs, once in the second on Reyes' home run and twice in the third when Ramon Castro doubled in Carlos Delgado and Wright. The offense went into hibernation after the fourth. But Pelfrey, Pedro Feliciano and K-Rod played a prevent defense, allowing 7-1 -- the Phillies had scored in the first -- to become 7-5 before the 27th out.
Pelfrey, as he had done in beating the Phillies on Friday in Citizens Bank Park, provided bend-don't-break pitching. The Phils amassed eight hits, one a no-doubt home run by Ryan Howard, a walk and three runs in Pelfrey's seven innings. If he struck out no one for the second successive game ... well, so what. It can even be seen as an accomplishment.
"It means they're making contact and not getting a lot out of it," Pelfrey said.
The Phillies have scored six runs in 12 1/3 innings against Pelfrey. Overall, he has struck out six in 28 innings and now has gone 76 batters without a strikeout. Curious, but hardly sinful. Oliver Perez has struck out 20 in 21 2/3 innings. Outs count more than strikeouts.
"Maybe it's [the Phillies] and not me," Pelfrey said. "I don't care, really, I just like to have more strikeouts than walks."
For now, walks lead, 14-6.
Indeed, the three Mets pitchers struck out no one. Rodriguez, therefore, became No-Rod for one night.
K-Rod was forced to make a fourth straight appearance -- he earned his fourth save in four games and his ninth overall -- because Feliciano had made this one a tad sweaty, surrendering a two-run home run to Jayson Werth in the eighth, Werth's fourth hit. Otherwise, J.J. Putz or Bobby Parnell would have pitched the ninth, As it is, manager Jerry Manuel said one of the two will serve as closer against the Pirates on Friday night, because Rodriguez will be given a day of rest.
"I'll take it," K-Rod said. "But I'll be ready."
Rodriguez had anticipated a night off when the Mets led by six. They had afforded Pelfrey substantial support for the fourth time in his five starts. They have scored 36 runs in his five starts, compared with 12 in the six games Johan Santana has started.
"He doesn't need the run support," Pelfrey said, smiling. "Hope they keep it up."
Now the Mets have hit 10 home runs in 14 games at Citi Field and 12 in 13 games on the road. Before Thursday, their lone three-home run game was on the road.
"It can be done here, but it takes some doing," Wright said.
Wright's third home run, the second at Citi, reached center field.
"But here, you hit and run," Wright added. "No celebrating prematurely."