NEW YORK — Philadelphia Phillies manager Pete Mackanin once watched his Triple-A Iowa Cubs blow an 8-0 lead with two outs in the ninth inning to lose 9-8.
On Saturday night, Mackanin nearly saw an even bigger rally.
The New York Mets fell behind by 10 runs early and finished just short of what would have been the largest comeback victory in team history, losing 10-8 to the Phillies.
After holding onto what would have been the third blown lead in three days, Mackanin was more relieved than anything else that his team finally got the job done.
“Positive is that we won the game,” he said. “That’s the best part.”
Maikel Franco and Darin Ruf each hit long a home run for the second consecutive night as Philadelphia built a 10-0 lead by the fourth.
Gavin Cecchini got his first two major league hits and drove in two for the Mets, who brought the tying run to the plate in the eighth and the winning run in the ninth, but could not overcome the early production by the Phillies offense. T.J. Rivera also had two RBIs.
“That’s the kind of game (where) you get a little anxious,” Franco said. “I just thank God that we won tonight.”
Pressed into a spot start because Noah Syndergaard was battling strep throat, Sean Gilmartin (0-1) fell behind 3-0 after 12 pitches after grooving a slider over to the plate to Franco, who connected on a 422-foot blast for 25th homer. Gilmartin left having allowed five runs in two-thirds of an inning.
The Phillies sent 11 to the plate in the first, making more work for New York’s exhausted bullpen. The Mets had to use six relievers after calling on 16 pitchers during the first two games of the series.
“The offense is coming alive,” Mackanin said. “They’ve been swinging the bats well all week.”
Philadelphia added to the lead against Rafael Montero, scoring four times in the fourth, on Tommy Joseph’s RBI single and Ruf’s mammoth three-run shot.
With a 10-run deficit, Mets manager Terry Collins took out regulars Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes in the top of the fifth, and his bench players nearly pulled off the comeback against Alec Asher (2-0) and the bullpen behind timely hits and poor Philadelphia defense.
“I absolutely tip my hat to the job those young kids did tonight,” Collins said.
The Mets scored four unearned runs in the fifth and added two more in the sixth against Philadelphia’s struggling bullpen. In the eighth, Hector Neris allowed Cecchini’s RBI double, but then got Rivera to fly out to center and Brandon Nimmo to pop up to end the threat.
Mackanin had hoped to get two innings out of Neris but was unable to do so because Neris threw 38 pitches in the eighth. Mackanin also wanted to rest struggling closer Jeanmar Gomez, so he turned to Michael Mariot to protect a three-run lead in the ninth.
That nearly backfired.
Jay Bruce connected for his first career pinch-hit home run of Mariot with one out. Eric Campbell and Michael Conforto then drew walks before Mariot got his second save by retiring Lucas Duda on a popup and Travis d’Arnaud on a comebacker.
“I’m talking myself into being happy,” Mackanin said.
New York is tied with San Francisco for the two NL wild cards. St. Louis is a half-game back.
Phillies: With the left-handed Gilmartin on the mound, Ryan Howard was held out of the lineup. … Relievers Luis Garcia and Severino Gonzalez were both unavailable because of tender ankles. Garcia was struck in the right ankle by a line drive on Thursday and Gonzalez is day-to-day after twisting his ankle. … RHP Edubray Ramos was also unavailable because of a tired elbow.
With his eighth-inning strikeout of Conforto, Neris became the fourth Phillies reliever to collect at least 100 strikeouts in a single season.
Mets: RHP Robert Gsellman (2-2, 3.13 ERA) makes his sixth major league start in the final home game for the Mets. The lanky rookie struggled against the Phillies in his first start, allowing four earned runs in six innings, but has only allowed seven earned runs over his next 22 innings (2.86 ERA).
Phillies: RHP Jake Thompson (3-5, 5.62 ERA) pitches Philadelphia’s final road game of the season. Although it was expected that he would be shut down along with Vince Velasquez, Thompson is instead looking for his third straight win.