NEW YORK -- He had sent Citi Field into delirium once more, and Yoenis Cespedes wanted to show the 35,832 fans his appreciation. Jogging back to the dugout in the fourth inning of the Mets' 12-1 win over the Phillies on Saturday night, his 26th homer of the year in the seats, Cespedes raised both hands to his lips and blew the Mets faithful a kiss.
Queens has fallen in love with Yoenis Cespedes over the past 13 months, and with his three-run laser Saturday night, Cespedes set the wheels in motion for another Mets onslaught of the Phillies.
"There's some confidence in there right now. Some guys are coming through that hadn't been coming through," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We've been talking endlessly about not getting hits with runners in scoring position; right now we are. It looks like a completely different team."
While Noah Syndergaard allowed just two hits through seven innings of one-run ball, the night was less bountiful for Jeremy Hellickson, whose ERA rose from 3.60 to 3.80. He was pulled before the start of the fifth, having already been knocked around for a pair of homers.
"I just lost command of pretty much all three pitches tonight," Hellickson said. "I think the two home runs were probably two of the better fastballs that I threw. It's a good lineup. It's hot right now."
Philadelphia's bullpen was hardly exempt from the bludgeoning. The Mets pushed their lead to 10 with a six-run seventh inning, which was punctuated by a pinch-hit grand slam off the bat of Kelly Johnson. With the blast, the Mets' 86th at home the season, the team broke the single-season record for home runs at Citi Field, set in 2015. Neil Walker added a solo shot the next inning, giving the Mets four homers, including a grand slam, for the second straight night.
"The energy's just different in the room right now," Collins said.
With 18 home games remaining, the Mets are on pace for 112 dingers in Queens. Staring down a huge deficit, the Phillies couldn't mount a comeback. Odubel Herrera singled in the bottom of the ninth, the Phillies' second hit since the third inning, but they couldn't put up much of a fight.
The Cardinals lost, 3-2, to Oakland on Saturday night, meaning the Mets, who have now won six of their last seven games, moved to within 2 1/2 games of the National League's second Wild Card spot.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Thor strikes again: Syndergaard posted a string of inconsistent outings before tossing an eight-inning gem last Sunday in San Francisco, and the towering righty turned in another ace-like performance on Saturday. He recorded seven strikeouts, two of which caused Ryan Howard and Freddy Galvis to toss their bats away in disgust. It was that type of night for Syndergaard, who didn't allow a hit until Galvis homered in the third. Syndergaard wouldn't allow another extra-base hit.
"Right now I'm able to locate my sinker to both sides of the plate. Right-handed, left-handed hitters, it doesn't really matter. My slider's been a lot more consistent this time around," Syndergaard said. More >
Hellickson knocked out early: Hellickson has been one of the Phillies' steadiest starters, pitching six or more innings in 15 of his last 18 starts entering the night. But he suffered the second-shortest start of his season Saturday, allowing seven hits and five runs in four innings. He pitched a season-low three innings April 15 against the Nationals.
"It was one of those nights," Hellickson said. "I really didn't have much." More >
Will the real Asdrubal please stand up?: Before Cespedes sealed the win with a three-run blast, Asdrubal Cabrera, who recently dyed his hair blond, delivered his third homer in two days. This one -- which came from the left side -- cleared the fence in left-center field. He finished 3-for-4, raising his average since his Aug. 19 return from the disabled list to .438.
"When you're confident as a player, that's really good for the hitter," Cabrera said. "At this moment I feel pretty good."
Freddy goes deep: Galvis hit his 14th homer of the season in the third, hitting a 2-2 curveball from Syndergaard over the right-field wall. Galvis is tied for 13th among big league shortstops in home runs. It was one of two hits Syndergaard allowed.
"He was the same as always," Galvis said of Syndergaard's dominance.
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Johnson's slam marked the Mets' first pinch-hit grand slam since Ike Davis hit one on April 5, 2014. It was also his fourth pinch-hit homer of the season.
WHAT'S NEXT Phillies: Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez (8-6, 4.31 ERA) faces the Mets in the series finale Sunday afternoon at Citi Field at 1:10 p.m. ET. Velasquez has struggled recently, allowing 19 earned runs in 16 1/3 innings in his last three starts. The Phillies are monitoring his workload this season, so this might be one of his final starts of 2016.
Mets: After earning his first Major League win in his debut Tuesday, Robert Gsellman takes the mound against the Phillies in the rubber match of a three-game set Sunday afternoon. Gsellman came out of the 'pen after Jonathon Niese faced four batters and proceeded to toss 3 2/3 innings scoreless innings. With Niese on the disabled list with a knee injury, Gsellman could solidify a rotation spot with a solid performance.