Phils, Mets cap set in Flushing

Right-hander Tyler Cloyd faces the New York Mets for the second time in his fifth major league start on Thursday when the Philadelphia Phillies meet them in the finale of a weather-altered three-game series at Citi Field.

The series had been scheduled to wrap up Wednesday, but game two on Tuesday was postponed by rain, moving the middle test to Wednesday and the finale to tonight.

A 25-year-old Nebraska native, Cloyd made his big-league debut against the Mets on Aug. 29 in Philadelphia and took a 3-2 loss after allowing three runs on seven hits in six innings, walking two and striking out five.

He bounced back for his initial win in his next start five days later in Cincinnati, allowing four hits and a run in seven innings of a 4-2 victory while walking none and striking out nine.

Two subsequent starts have yielded a pair of no-decisions - home with Colorado and at Houston - in which the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder gave up seven runs on 13 hits in seven innings.

Cloyd was 15-1 in 26 minor-league starts to begin 2012 while splitting time at Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

For the Mets, fellow rookie Jeremy Hefner makes his 11th start and his 24th appearance as a big leaguer.

He's faced the Phillies twice so far in his brief career, starting once and relieving once while going 1-0 with a 7.36 ERA across 7 1/3 innings.

The Mets are 4-6 in Hefner's last 10 appearances since late July, including his 11-3 loss to Atlanta on Sept. 8 in which he allowed five runs on eight hits in 2 2/3 innings.

His most recent win came back on Aug. 4 at San Diego, when he tossed six innings and scattered a run on five hits in a 6-2 triumph.

Hefner is 1-3 in 12 appearances at Citi Field with a 5.72 ERA.

On Wednesday, Ryan 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 Mets, 3-2.

"To be here is a testament to the character of this team," Howard said. "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.

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 Mets won 10 of the first 15 games between the teams in 2012, while the Phillies were an 11-7 winner in the 2011 series against New York.