|Hoping to stay in race, Phillies host Mets|
NEW YORK -- The third time was the charm Tuesday night for the Philadelphia Phillies, who finally earned a win on a night in which the Atlanta Braves lost.
The Phillies will look to continue a last-ditch attempt to get back into the National League East race Wednesday night when they host the New York Mets in the finale of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies evened the series Tuesday night when Jorge Alfaro's three-run homer capped a five-run sixth inning in a 5-2 victory. The win, coupled with the Braves' 8-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, pulled Philadelphia within 5 1/2 games of first-place Atlanta, which has a magic number of seven for winning the division.
The Braves have dropped three straight, but the Phillies failed to make up ground when they lost to the Miami Marlins on Sunday and the Mets on Monday.
Another win on Wednesday -- when the Phillies' Zach Eflin (10-7, 4.26 ERA) is scheduled to oppose the Mets' Noah Syndergaard (12-3, 3.26) in a battle of right-handers -- will provide Philadelphia some valuable momentum heading Thursday, when it begins a make-or-break four-game series in Atlanta against the Braves.
The two teams are also scheduled to finish the season with a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park.
"We have a chance, for sure," Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola told reporters after he allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings Tuesday night. "Seven games against the Braves. Have to go over there, but just worry about what we can do and not really worry about the Braves right now."
With their third loss in four games, meanwhile, the Mets (70-81) ensured themselves a second straight non-winning season. They opened the month with 10 wins in the first 13 games, but the late run wasn't nearly enough to undo the damage New York suffered in going 5-21 in June -- the third-worst month, in terms of winning percentage, in franchise history.
"We have to do everything we can to make sure a June doesn't happen again," first-year Mets manager Mickey Callaway told reporters Tuesday afternoon. "Because it derails your whole season."
Eflin stopped a three-start losing streak last Friday when he allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings as the Phillies beat the Marlins 14-2. It was the first time since June 27, a span of 11 starts, in which Eflin allowed fewer than two runs.
Syndergaard won his third straight start last Friday, surrendering just three hits over seven scoreless innings as the Mets beat the Boston Red Sox 8-0. He has a 1.99 ERA and has allowed 26 baserunners while striking out 21 over 22 2/3 innings this month.
Eflin is 1-3 with a 6.10 ERA in six career starts against the Mets. He split two decisions against New York over the past six weeks, giving up 10 runs over 9 2/3 innings.
Syndergaard is 5-2 with a 2.96 ERA in nine career starts against the Phillies. He allowed four runs and 12 hits over 6 2/3 innings in beating Philadelphia on Sept. 8.