Manuel wants first-place Mets to remain solid

Manuel wants first-place Mets to remain solid

NEW YORK -- It wasn't until Jerry Manuel arrived at Citi Field on Wednesday that he realized his Mets were alone in first place. Watching scores flash by on a clubhouse television, Manuel noticed that the Phillies had lost their third consecutive game.

The Mets, of course, won their fifth and sixth straight games on Tuesday, vaulting them into sole possession of first place for the first time since May 29, 2009.

"It gives the Mets fans hope this time of the year," Manuel said. "I think when we struggled coming out of the gate, people began to reflect back on things that happened last year. But to play the way we have at home, it's encouraging obviously for the team, but also for the fans."

That does not mean Manuel will put much stock in the fact that his team, at this early juncture of the season, is a half game better than the Phillies. But it's certainly better than second, third or fourth.

"Because of the things that are surrounding our club, coming off a tough year like we did, we wanted to get out to a good start," Manuel said. "We didn't quite come out of the gate like we would like to, but I thought we played good baseball and had a chance to win a lot of games. To come back on our longest homestand and play the way we have, I think that's encouraging."

The Mets will travel to Philadelphia this weekend for three games against the Phillies -- meaning they will either pad their slim lead or fall right back down the standings.

Their manager, for one, believes this hot streak can continue.

"In the course of 162 games, everybody's going to go through a period that's going to be somewhat of a struggle," Manuel said. "The thing we hope to do is to remain solid."