Mets win doubleheader opener, edge Phillies 4-3 in extras

NEW YORK — Pete Alonso and Jonathan Villar each hit an RBI single in the eighth inning to give the New York Mets a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in the first game of their doubleheader Tuesday.

Dominic Smith socked an early two-run homer for the Mets, who took the opener of a four-game series between NL East rivals in extra innings. Both games of the single-admission twinbill, booked to make up Monday night’s rainout at Citi Field, were scheduled for seven innings in keeping with a rules change introduced during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

With the Mets down a run, Alonso opened the bottom of the eighth with a sharp single off Héctor Neris (0-1) that scored placement runner Francisco Lindor from second. It was New York’s first hit since the second inning.

Jeff McNeil beat out a potential double-play ball, Michael Conforto walked and James McCann’s infield single loaded the bases with one out.

Villar, who entered as a pinch-runner in the seventh, lofted a full-count pitch to left-center over the head of left fielder Andrew McCutchen, playing shallow in hopes of cutting off the winning run.

“It’s good to see those big hits in those moments,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “You can see the guys’ timing coming together.”

Aided by McCann’s passed ball, the Phillies went ahead 3-2 in the top of the eighth against Trevor May when McCutchen scored from third on Didi Gregorius’ two-out infield single.

May (1-1) then struck out Jean Segura with two runners in scoring position and got his first win for the Mets.

Philadelphia tied it 2-all after Rhys Hoskins drew his first walk of the season leading off the sixth against reliever Miguel Castro. Hoskins scored when Segura legged out a two-out dribbler to third for an infield single on an 0-2 pitch.

Taijuan Walker struck out eight over 4 1/3 innings in his second start with the Mets, again showing some increased velocity on multiple pitches in his repertoire.

“I feel like today I had all five that were swing-and-miss pitches,” Walker said. “I just thought it was an overall great team win, and get ready for the second one now.”

The right-hander was pulled following consecutive walks in the fifth, and the Mets escaped the inning with a one-run lead thanks to a terrific defensive play by substitute third baseman Luis Guillorme to thwart a double steal.

“That was a game-changer,” Rojas said.

Brandon Nimmo drew a leadoff walk from Chase Anderson in the first inning and Smith put New York on top with his second homer this season.

Nimmo entered leading the majors with a .565 on-base percentage. Smith, raised to third in the lineup with the slumping Conforto dropped to sixth, also hit a two-run shot off Anderson a week prior in Philadelphia.

Alec Bohm doubled to start the second and scored on Andrew Knapp’s sacrifice fly.

Anderson allowed two runs and three hits in four innings.

“I wasn’t efficient with the pitch count. I’d like to pitch deeper in the game,” he said. “I wish I didn’t walk those three guys. I didn’t have much. I was battling the whole game, kept them close.”

DRY SWINGS

The Mets were finally back on the field after showers stymied them the previous two days. New York had played just five games in the first 12 days of the season because of a COVID-19 outbreak among the Washington Nationals and then wet weather.

Several top hitters are off to slow starts, and the Mets (3-3) have struggled at the plate with runners in scoring position.

“It kind of feels like spring training. Except the games mean a lot,” Lindor said before the opener. “We can’t make any excuses. We’ve got to start winning ballgames.”

GETTING HEATED

There was some barking back and forth between the Mets’ bench and Phillies reliever José Alvarado after the left-hander buzzed Conforto up and in and then drilled him near the wrist with a 100 mph fastball. Alvarado gestured dismissively in the direction of New York’s dugout, but nothing more came of it and Conforto appeared to be fine.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Phillies: Knapp caught the opener, and All-Star backstop J.T. Realmuto was behind the plate for the second game. … Matt Joyce replaced McCutchen in LF for the nightcap. … With reliever Archie Bradley placed on the 10-day injured list Sunday because of a strained left oblique, top prospect Spencer Howard was added to the roster as the 27th man for the twinbill. The right-hander has never pitched in relief as a pro.

Mets: Guillorme started at 3B for J.D. Davis (bruised left hand), who is eligible to come off the injured list Saturday. … Conforto was on the bench in the nightcap, with Kevin Pillar starting in right field. … LHP Stephen Tarpley was recalled from the alternate training site to serve as the 27th man on the roster.

UP NEXT

Phillies: Aaron Nola (0-0, 2.53 ERA) makes his third start of the year in the nightcap. The right-hander threw 92 pitches over four innings against the Mets at home last week, allowing one run and six hits. He is 8-2 with a 3.26 ERA in 17 career outings versus New York. Nola tossed seven-inning complete games in his last two starts that were part of doubleheaders last September. Those were the first two complete games of his career after going 135 starts without one.

Mets: Marcus Stroman (1-0, 1.42) takes the ball again, two days after his start against Miami lasted only nine pitches because the game was suspended due to rain.

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