PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Zack Wheeler pitched a two-hitter and struck out 11, Bryce Harper homered and the first-place Philadelphia Phillies finished off a three-game sweep for their eighth straight victory, 3-0 over the fading New York Mets on Sunday.
Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto also homered for the Phillies, who moved 2 1/2 games ahead of the Mets in the NL East. The streak is Philadelphia’s longest since winning eight straight in July 2010.
“It was pure dominance today,” Harper said of Wheeler.
The Mets got a pregame pep talk in the clubhouse from owner Steve Cohen before losing for the seventh time in eight tries. New York arrived at Citizens Bank Park this weekend leading the division and left in third place. Atlanta is in second place, two back of Philadelphia.
Following an emotional ceremony to retire the jersey of Roy Halladay, Wheeler (10-6) pitched like the late Hall of Famer.
“On a day that you honor one of the greatest pitches I’ve witnessed pitch, he goes out and it was like Roy had his hand on it,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi, pausing while choking up a bit, said. “He gives a Roy Halladay appearance today.”
Said Wheeler, “Today was his day and I just tried to pitch like him.”
Wheeler gave up a double to Brandon Nimmo to start the game and then retired 22 consecutive batters — the most by a Phillies pitcher since Halladay’s perfect game on May 29, 2010 — until Michael Conforto walked in the eighth. Nimmo singled with one out in the ninth and Wheeler soon struck out slumping slugger Pete Alonso for his fourth career complete game, three of them shutouts.
Wheeler walked only one. He threw 80 of his 108 pitches for strikes.
“The (fastball) was moving, I had the command of that and my off-speed (stuff) was pretty sharp,” Wheeler said. “When you have all that going, it makes it a little easier.”
The 31-year-old All-Star pitched for the Mets for five seasons before signing a five-year, $118 million free-agent deal with the Phillies prior to the 2020 season. He improved to 3-1 with a 2.72 ERA in seven starts against his former club while reaching double-digit strikeouts for the 14th time overall and sixth this year.
Offense continued to be a struggle for the Mets, and they have 20 total runs in the last nine defeats. Alonso was hitless in four at-bats with a pair strikeouts to stretch his rut to 0 for 21, yet remained positive afterward.
“Two weeks from now, nobody is going to talk about this,” Alonso said. “There are certain times in the process where you know you’re on the right path and you’re not getting results.”
Taijuan Walker (7-7), a first-time All-Star this year, continued his second-half slump. The right-hander allowed three runs on four hits with a walk and a strikeout. Three of the hits were homers, upping the staggering count to 10 longballs surrendered in the last four contests. Over that stretch, Walker is 0-4 with a 7.84 ERA and has given up 26 hits in 20 2/3 innings.
Harper stayed hot by hitting his fourth homer in six games, a solo drive in the sixth that made it 3-0 and gave the six-time All-Star a total of 20 home runs this season. He has reached base in 17 straight games and was greeted in right field by loud chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” by many among the 39,186 in attendance, marking Philadelphia’s largest home crowd of the season.
The Phillies jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first. Segura drove a 2-2, 94-mph fastball into the seats in left, and Realmuto hit an opposite-field drive.
On the same diamond where Halladay pitched himself into baseball history and the hearts of Philadelphia fans, the Phillies retired the late Hall of Famer’s No. 34 jersey in a touching tribute before the game.
Former teammates Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Raúl Ibañez as well as pitching coach Rich Dubee and manager Charlie Manuel were among those in attendance. Halladay’s wife and two children were unable to attend due to COVID-19 protocols, Ibañez said. Halladay died in a plane crash at 40 years old on Nov. 7, 2017.
Halladay spent four of his 16 seasons in Philadelphia from 2010-2013. He was twice an All-Star with the Phillies and won the second of his two Cy Young Awards following the 2010 season when he went 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA.
“Doc’s one of the greatest of all time,” Harper said. “I was one of those lucky enough to see him pitch, lucky enough — well, not lucky enough — to face him. He was an incredible person on the field and off the field. He was a legend in a lot of people’s eyes, my eyes as well. It was really cool to see (the ceremony) and it fires you up.”
Mets: SS Javier Báez left after batting in the fifth due to left hip soreness. Baez grimaced on a swing during his at-bat that ended with a groundout to second. Manager Luis Rojas said initial pessimism about the injury subsided following a postgame evaluation. … OF Jose Martinez began a rehab assignment with Single-A St. Lucie on Sunday. He was 0-for-2 with a strikeout. Martinez has been out all season after suffering a torn left meniscus during spring training. Rojas said he expected Martinez to start his rehab by playing every other day.
Phillies: OF Odubel Herrera (right Achilles’ soreness) was a late scratch from the starting lineup. Girardi said he wasn’t able to get loose in warmups. … 1B Rhys Hoskins (groin) sat for the third straight game, and SS Didi Gregorius (left elbow) missed his second consecutive contest.
Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (0-0, 3.24) starts for the Mets when they open a three-game series against Washington on Tuesday night in New York. RHP Paolo Espino (3-3, 3.66) goes for the Nationals.
Phillies: RHP Aaron Nola (7-6, 4.49) will face Dodgers RHP Max Scherzer (9-4, 2.75) on Tuesday night when Philadelphia begins a three-game home series against Los Angeles.
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