PHILADELPHIA — Francisco Lindor might not be hitting, but the rest of this Mets lineup is starting to show signs of life.
The most welcomed additions are Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil, who spent most of this season’s first month in pronounced slumps. Dominic Smith’s recent downturn also appears over.
Sunday night the Mets tiptoed around an Edwin Diaz meltdown in the ninth — getting a huge assist from a replay review — and celebrated a scoring total that matched their season’s best in a wild 8-7 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets (11-11) have scored at least five runs in consecutive games, a first this season.
“These past two games we played just such great team baseball,” Pete Alonso said. “Picking each other up, making plays in the field, pitchers getting big outs when they need to get big outs and clutch hitting. I don’t know if that’s a season-defining game tonight, but it’s definitely a momentum shifter.”
Somehow, the Mets survived the ninth. Rhys Hoskins appeared to hit a game-tying homer off Diaz with two outs, but the call was overturned by a crew chief’s review, which showed the ball hitting the railing above the right-field fence and bouncing back into play. Hoskins was awarded a two-run double, and Jeurys Familia entered to strike out Bryce Harper, ending it.
Diaz, who allowed three runs in the inning, was dealing with back tightness, according to manager Luis Rojas, but wanted to pitch through it.
In a huge eighth inning, the Mets sent 10 batters to the plate and savaged the Phillies bullpen, including Jose Alvarado — who earlier in the day was suspended three games (he is appealing) for his role in inciting the benches to empty Friday night.
Alonso delivered the big hit in the eighth, a three-run double, after the Mets had rallied to take the lead. Kevin Pillar homered leading off the inning and Jonathan Villar’s alert baserunning contributed to another run. On the play, pinch-hitter Jose Peraza singled off Hoskins’ glove, with the ball deflecting behind him. Villar had initially stopped at third, but with the Phillies not paying attention he broke to the plate to tie it 4-4.
“I call him the ‘Caballo Loco’ — that means ‘crazy horse,’ ” Alonso said. “He’s reckless, but in a good way when he runs the bases. He’s super-aggressive and he’s the type of player that can cause a lot of havoc on the base paths.”
Conforto later walked — his fourth time reaching base in the game — to force in the go-ahead run before Alonso’s double provided a cushion.
“What we saw tonight was the at-bats we have seen guys take in the last few years,” Rojas said. “There was a lot of good sequencing hitting-wise. It’s something that we have done in the last couple of years and we really didn’t do it in the month of April.”
Pillar and Villar were in the lineup because Brandon Nimmo and J.D. Davis were unavailable to swing the bat because of hand injuries. With a short bench, Rojas was forced to use pitcher Taijuan Walker as a pinch hitter in the eighth.
“It just feels good that offensively we put ourselves in a position to win a game,” Pillar said. “Our bullpen has been so good, our starting pitching has been so good … thankfully [Hoskins’] ball hit the top of the rail and gave [Familia] a chance to close that game out.”
Lindor went 0-for-5 and saw his average drop to .171. Lindor, who remains tethered to the No. 2 hole in the lineup, has one homer and three RBIs. In his biggest at-bat of the night, he was retired by Zach Eflin with the bases loaded to end the sixth inning.
Miguel Castro surrendered a three-run homer to Didi Gregorius in the bottom of the sixth to give the Phillies a 4-2 lead. The blast ended a 19-inning scoreless streak by Mets relievers.
David Peterson gave the Mets a chance by allowing one earned run on four hits and two walks, with eight strikeouts, over five innings. It was a second straight solid start for the left-hander, who allowed two earned runs over six innings against the Red Sox last week.
Andrew McCutchen launched Peterson’s third pitch of the game for a leadoff homer, but the Mets escaped further damage in the inning with help from McNeil’s glove, after Hoskins had walked and Harper singled.
Alec Bohm hit a shot toward the middle that McNeil managed to knock down and flip to Lindor to start an inning-ending double play. McNeil’s quick reflexes saved at least one run and perhaps an even messier extended inning.