NEW YORK (AP) — Zack Wheeler threw seven scoreless innings against his former team, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the New York Mets 4-2 on Sunday to split a four-game series.
Wheeler, who signed a five-year deal worth $118 million in December 2019 after spending his first seven seasons with the Mets, allowed four hits, walked two and struck out eight.
His final strikeout was his 130th of the season, lifting him into a tie with the Indians’ Shane Bieber for the big league lead. Wheeler, who lowered his ERA to 2.20, also leads the majors with 106 1/3 innings pitched.
“To me, there’s no question that he’s an All-Star pitcher this year,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “You look at the innings that he’s logged and how deep he’s gotten into games for us and he saves our bullpen. He’s been one of the best pitchers in the game.”
The first-half success is a departure for Wheeler, who is 26-31 with a 3.96 ERA before the All-Star Break and 24-11 with a 2.90 ERA afterward.
“It’s something that you kind of always work for,” Wheeler said. “I’ve always had iffy first halves, so to get out on a good foot and just keep it rolling, it feels pretty good.”
The Mets had runners at first and third in the first against Wheeler (6-4), who set down the next 11 batters. In the fifth, he retired Jeff McNeil on a flyball to center to strand runners at second and third.
Jose Alvarado gave up an RBI single to Pete Alonso in the eighth and Archie Bradley surrendered a one-out homer to Kevin Pillar in the ninth before recording his first save for the Phillies, who led until the Mets’ final at-bat in an of the first three games of the series.
The Mets forced extra innings thanks to errors by Alvarado in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader, which they won 2-1 in eight innings, and by Alec Bohm in the seventh inning of the nightcap. A ninth-inning error by Rhys Hoskins sparked New York’s two-run rally in a 4-3 win Saturday.
“We got two (wins), but we could have had four,” Girardi said. “But we’ve got to move on and we’ve got to finish strong going into the break.”
The Phillies took advantage of some rare misplays by New York — which entered Sunday with 37 errors, the second fewest in the NL — to aid their small-ball rallies against Marcus Stroman (6-6).
With one out in the second, Nick Maton walked and Ronald Torreyes singled. Wheeler bunted to advance the runners but reached safely when second baseman McNeil dropped Stroman’s throw. Odubel Herrera followed with a sacrifice fly.
“That’s why I’ve always liked the NL — you’ve got to get the bunts down and move the runners,” Wheeler said. “It’s just the small things that add up sometimes. If you put the ball in play, some good things happen.”
In the third, Andrew McCutchen scored on Alec Bohm’s groundout. Maton laced an RBI double and scored after Luis Guillorme threw the ball away on Torreyes’ infield single.
Torreyes and McCutchen each had three singles for the Phillies. Alonso had a trio of singles for the Mets.
The Mets scored two runs or fewer for the ninth time in their last 13 games and are 5-8 in that span. Francisco Lindor and James McCann are the only opening-day starters to avoid the injured list this season for New York, which could get Brandon Nimmo back this week and J.D. Davis before the All-Star break.
“It’s tough to get going when you don’t have your pieces in there for just about every day,” Alonso said. “I think that the more that we keep grinding out, the more that we keep going along and progressing this season — I honestly think this team is ready to put up a bunch of runs consistently.”
Stroman, who exited his last start with a sore left hip after one inning, allowed four runs, two earned, on five hits in three innings while pitching days after the death of his grandmother.
Joe Girardi won his 1,052nd game as a manager, breaking a tie with Jack McKeon for 57th place on the all-time list. Girardi is 13 wins shy of the next manager on the list, Frank Robinson.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Girardi and Rojas each won a replay challenge. In the second inning, Maton ran halfway home when a Stroman pitch eluded James McCann and was initially called out upon diving back to the third base bag. Girardi challenged and the call was overturned. In the seventh, McCutchen was ruled out after a replay review of his attempted steal of second.
Phillies: RF Bryce Harper (left calf) didn’t play, a day after he was hit in the left calf by a pitch from Jacob deGrom that bounced in the dirt.
Mets: 3B J.D. Davis (left hand) is expected to begin a rehab stint Monday with Triple-A Syracuse. ... Rojas said several other injured Mets should play this week for Syracuse, including IF Jonathan Villar (right calf), C Tomas Nido (right wrist) and RHP Jeurys Familia (right hip). Familia threw a bullpen on Sunday.
Phillies: RHP Spencer Howard (0-2, 5.59 ERA) starts against the Cincinnati Reds in a makeup of a game postponed by rain on June 2.
Mets: RHP Jerad Eickhoff (0-0, 0.00) makes his second start for New York against the Washington Nationals in a makeup of one of the games postponed in April by the Nationals’ COVID-19 outbreak.
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