Flushing, NY – Philadelphia turned to one of its mainstays to keep its tenuous playoff hopes alive.
Ryan Howard answered the call in a big way.
Howard's two-out, two-run home run in the top of the ninth turned a crippling defeat into a necessary victory, as the Phillies downed the New York Mets, 3-2, in the second contest of a three-game set at Citi Field.
"To be here is a testament to the character of this team," said Howard. "We are just trying to play it all out."
Chase Utley worked a two-out walk against Josh Edgin (1-2) then Howard crushed a belt-high fastball high into the night. It finally landed just above the facade of the upper deck in right to give the Phillies the lead. The home run made a winner of Jeremy Horst (2-0) and Jonathan Papelbon navigated the ninth for his 36th save.
Before Howard's heroics, the game belonged to Mets starter Matt Harvey, who surrendered only Jimmy Rollins' leadoff home run and three walks along with seven strikeouts in seven innings. The rally also moved the Phillies past the Pittsburgh Pirates and into fifth place in the National League wild card standings, four games behind St. Louis for the second wild card berth after the Cardinals downed Houston on Wednesday.
Cole Hamels kept the Phillies in the game with six solid frames, surrendering two runs on six hits with 10 strikeouts and one walk. He reached the 200- strikeout milestone in the fifth, but failed to reach 15 wins in the process, a mark he achieved in 2007.
David Wright hit a solo home run in the sixth, while Ruben Tejada finished with three hits. Scott Hairston and Ike Davis finished with two hits apiece for the Mets, who lost their fourth straight game.
The cool game-time temperature and breeze blowing in toward home plate didn't bother Rollins in the first. The Phillies leadoff hitter jumped on a fastball, driving the game's fifth pitch just over the wall in right field to give the visitors an early lead.
All was quiet for Hamels until he ran into two-out issues in the third. Tejada slapped his second straight single to left, stole second and took advantage of Juan Pierre's poor arm to score on Daniel Murphy's base hit to left.
Hamels gave up a pair of hits -- Hairston's double and Davis' infield single -- to start the fourth, but he struck out the next two batters and induced a fly out off Andres Torres' bat to escape any damage.
The Mets took the lead in the sixth, as Wright showcased his strength, blasting a 400-foot shot against the wind to the opposite field in right- center for his 27th career home run against the Phillies.
New York was in search of some insurance in the eighth, loading the bases with one out, but Torres grounded into a double play to end the threat.
That proved costly after Howard's long blast in the ninth, his first home run off a left-handed relief pitcher this season. It was also Howard's first career go-ahead home run with two outs in the ninth inning.
"It was up, middle up," said Edgin of the pitch. "That's what he's paid to do. He's a big guy paid to hit home runs. I gave him a meatball, so he's going to do it."
Murphy has a MLB-leading 24 hits against Philadelphia this season ... The make-up game from Tuesday's rainout will take place Thursday with Tyler Cloyd on the mound for the Phillies against Jeremy Hefner for the Mets ... Howard's home run was his 11th of the season and his first in September ... Howard was also hitless in his last 18 at-bats versus lefties prior to the home run ... Rollins has 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases since the beginning of June .. The Phillies went 23 plate appearances between Rollins' home run and their second hit of the game, John Mayberry Jr.'s bloop single in the eighth.