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NEW YORK (AP) — Even after Jacob deGrom was scratched on a rainy afternoon, the Phillies stumbled again when Vince Velasquez wasted a two-run lead in a 6-4 loss to the New York Mets that was as dismal for Philadelphia as Sunday’s weather.
Philadelphia led the NL East before play Aug. 12 but has faded by losing seven straight series and dropping 17 of its last 26 games. The Phillies started the day 3½ games behind first-place Atlanta and also trailed by the same margin for the second wild card with three weeks left.
Michael Conforto hit a three-run homer in a four-run fifth inning, tied a career best with four RBIs and made a fine catch. Rookie Jeff McNeil had his second straight three-hit game and fifth overall, raising his average to .340 as the Mets took two of three in the weekend series.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway decided not to pitch the big league ERA leader in a steady rain and switched to rookie Corey Oswalt during a 27-minute rain delay before the start.
Rhys Hoskins provided a first-inning lead when he homered for the third straight game and reached 30 for the first time.
Velasquez (9-11) gave up Amed Rosario’s eighth triple of the season leading off the bottom half, and Conforto followed with a run-scoring infield single — ending Velasquez’s streak of 14 consecutive scoreless first innings.
Dropping to 1-3 in his last six starts, Velasquez failed to get an out in the fifth. Pinch-hitter Dominic Smith doubled, Rosario was hit by an 0-2 pitch, Jeff McNeil lashed a tying opposite-field single to left and Conforto drove the next pitch for his 23rd homer, an opposite-field shot just over the left-field wall. The ball originally was called a double but was changed after a review of less than a minute.
Rookie Drew Gagnon (1-1), making his first big league appearance since his debut against the Phillies on July 10, pitched two hitless innings for the win.
Wilson Ramos had a sacrifice fly off Drew Smith in the sixth, but Austin Jackson restored a three-run lead with an RBI double in the seventh against Hector Neris. Four Mets pitchers combined for two-hit relief; Seth Lugo got six outs for his second save, allowing Carlos Santana’s two-out homer in the ninth.
Callaway had said he might not start deGrom if there was a chance of a rain delay early in the game, played before what appeared to be fewer than 10,000 fans from an announced crowd of 24,153.
DeGrom is 7-1 against the Phillies has made 25 consecutive starts overall allowing three runs or fewer, tying the major league record set by King Cole of the 1910 Chicago Cubs. Yet he is 8-8 despite a major league-leading 1.68 ERA — including 3-6 with a 1.85 ERA in his last 13 outings.
Instead, New York gave a ninth big league start to Oswalt, who allowed his 13th home run in 53 innings.
With steady rain falling in the bottom of the first, the grounds crew replaced the mud-filled rubber scraper behind the mound used by pitchers to clean spikes.
Philadelphia’s Justin Bour stranded the bases loaded when he struck out ending the second, then was removed from the game as the Phillies inserted shortstop Scott Kingery and went with a more defensive lineup.
(Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)