PHILADELPHIA - Since the week leading up to the trade deadline, the Mets have transformed themselves into one of the most potent offenses in baseball. Finally, they have provided an equal to its dynamic starting rotation.
And in a 9-4 victory over the Phillies Wednesday night, the Mets once again enjoyed the luxury of a suddenly explosive offense.
Bartolo Colon tossed seven shutout innings, bouncing back from getting roughed up in his previous outing. Michael Cuddyer continued his resurgence with three RBIs, including a mammoth homer into the upper deck in leftfield at Citizens Bank Park. And the Mets extended their dominance over the Phillies, winning their sixth straight overall and their eighth straight game over their division rivals.
The Mets are on pace for 90 wins -- a standard that GM Sandy Alderson once earned ridicule for trying to meet.
But all of it was nearly undone in the eighth, when lefty Eric O'Flaherty led a bullpen implosion that turned a comfortable six-run lead into a more tenuous two-run cushion.
The narrow margin forced manager Terry Collins to deploy Tyler Clippard on a night in which he hoped to give his setup man some rest.
But the Mets got the runs back in the ninth, helping to cover for O'Flaherty's shaky work.
With the help of an error by shortstop Freddy Galvis, the Mets rallied behind a double by Curtis Granderson and a triple by Yoenis Cespedes to piece together a three-run inning that quickly restored order.
With the win -- and the Nationals' loss -- the Mets extended their lead in the NL East to 6 1/2 games. But while they have seized control of the division, the Mets still have some work to do to shore up the bullpen.
O'Flaherty, acquired from the A's for his track record against lefties, continued his struggles with his new team. The southpaw was charged for three runs after allowing all three lefties that he faced to reach base.
Cameron Rupp's double off reliever Carlos Torres scored a pair of runners left behind by O'Flaherty. An error by Wilmer Flores extended the inning for pinch-hitter Jeff Francouer, whose RBI single off Clippard cut the Phillies' deficit to two.
O'Flaherty, the only lefty specialist on the roster, has allowed 10 runs in 5 2/3 innings since joining the Mets. A potent offense helped mask his struggles last night.
Since coming off the disabled list since Aug. 11, Cuddyer is hitting .359 with two homers and seven RBIs. Cuddyer once resided in limbo, playing through a knee injury that would ultimately send him to the disabled list. His production sagged, so much so that upon his return to the field, he was greeted with a diminished role. Cuddyer willingly obliged, placing the emphasis on winning.
Starting at first base, where playing time has been available since Lucas Duda landed on the DL, Cuddyer went 3-for-5.
Cuddyer's big night included a two-run shot in the eighth. Cuddyer's homer gave the Mets 40 as a team for August, tying the club record set in June 2006. The veteran also added an RBI double in the first inning.
His return has added on to what has been an awakening for the Mets. Entering last night, they led the big leagues in homers and doubles since July 25.