By Sam Bush
Aaron Nola held the Mets hitless into the sixth inning, Jay Bruce homered twice and the Phillies entered the All-Star break with an 8-3 victory over the Mets.
The Phils headed into the break at 47-43 – they were 53-42 at this point last year and envisioned more after adding Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen and others in an offseason push.
”I think we all know that we underachieved in the first half,” said Bruce, a big hitter since being acquired in June.
The Phillies led the NL East for most of the season, but injuries to McCutchen and the bullpen caught up to them.
”Some adversity in the first half,” manager Gabe Kapler said. ”We’re in a good position. We’re feeling pretty confident.”
Bruce drove in four runs against his former team and Rhys Hoskins homered as the Phillies took two of three in the series.
The feuding division rivals kept their cool and there were no warnings from the umpires, a day after a tense game in which Jake Arrieta hit Todd Frazier and later said if the Mets veteran was still upset, ”he can come see me and I’ll put a dent in his skull.”
Hoskins was hit in the left thigh by a pitch from reliever Wilmer Font in the seventh. As fans cheered, Hoskins spun around and slung a leg guard toward the dugout, then took his base without incident.
In April, Mets reliever Jacob Rhame was suspended two games and fined for zinging two fastballs over Hoskins’ head, apparent retaliation for two Mets getting drilled.
Hoskins later got even, homering off Rhame and taking an amazingly slow trot around the bases. This time, Hoskins homered in the ninth and routinely went about his business.
Nola (8-2) extended his scoreless streak to 22 innings before Alonso hit a two-run drive with one out. The right-hander allowed three hits in 6 2/3 innings – he has never pitched a complete game as a pro, totaling 112 starts in the majors and 31 in the minors.
His assessment of the Phils so far: ”Up-and-down first half.”
Zack Wheeler (6-6) was tagged for six runs in five-plus innings, an outing that definitely didn’t enhance his trade value as the July 31 deadline approaches.
Hoskins hit an RBI double, Realmuto followed with a two-run double and Bruce had an RBI single in the first.
Bruce hit a two-run homer that finished Wheeler in the sixth and connected in the eighth for his 28th career multihomer game and third this year. The Mets traded Bruce to Seattle in the winter as part of a package for Cano and Diaz, the Mariners dealt him to the Phillies in June.
Bruce has 24 homers and 57 RBIs. With 14 home runs for Seattle and 10 for the Phillies, he is first big leaguer to reach double-digits for two teams before the All-Star break, STATS said.
Adeiny Hechavarria connected for his first pinch-hit homer in the Mets ninth.