WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- That the Mets played Sunday in an unfamiliar locale mattered less than the simple fact that they were anywhere but home.
A Mets team that sports Major League Baseball's lowest run total in home games capped a five-city road trip with an 8-2 win over the Phillies at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field, pushing its road output to a National League-best 5.23 runs per game. Eighty-three of those came in this 11-game swing up the Eastern seaboard, which they punctuated with a win at the second annual MLB Little League Classic presented by Geico.
"It's something that you can't really pin down," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said of the Mets' extreme home-road splits. "We're doing our best to try and figure out why so we can change that. We have a great group of hitters, and they perform really good overall on the road and just haven't performed at home."
:: Little League Classic presented by GEICO ::
While pitching powered the Mets at times on their best road trip since their first one of the season, the offense was the primary reason for their success -- particularly during a 24-hour stretch last week in which they scored 40 runs against the Orioles and Phillies.
The Mets continued that hot hitting in the second inning on Sunday with four consecutive singles off Nick Pivetta, resulting in four runs. After Jose Bautista and Kevin Plawecki rapped out RBI hits, Amed Rosario singled home two additional runs.
More offense came on a Jeff McNeil two-run single in the fourth inning, making Jason Vargas' job relatively easy. Coming off his longest start of the season, Vargas again pitched into the sixth, giving up his only two runs on Carlos Santana's homer that inning.
"I thought it was a great atmosphere," Vargas said. "It's definitely an unusual one, something different, something you can kind of look forward to."
Certainly the offensive support helped Vargas' mood. The Mets' road scoring average trails only the A's and Astros, but they tend to lose their punch at Citi Field, averaging fewer runs per game at home than the Padres, Royals and Marlins and everybody else.
"We're really trying to hone in on why that is, and what it is about home that causing that," Callaway said. "If we can figure it out, we'll make the adjustment and hopefully we can be the third-best offense at home as well. It's something that's a little puzzling, but it's something that's a reality and we have to try and fix it."
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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Losing the shutout: Scattering just three hits over the game's first five innings, Vargas ran into trouble with one out in the sixth, when Rhys Hoskins singled and Santana followed with a two-run shot to center. When Vargas allowed a hit to the next batter, Callaway pulled him from the game. In came Seth Lugo, who retired five of the six batters he faced before Drew Smith and Daniel Zamora turned in scoreless innings to squelch any ideas of a Phillies comeback.
The game was the Mets' first at a neutral site since June 28-30, 2010, when they played a series against the Marlins in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It had been much longer for the Phillies, who made their last neutral-site appearance at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, N.J., playing as the visiting team against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
HE SAID IT
"I remember playing when I was 10 and 12 years old in similar parks, and it just brings back a lot of really good memories. It was a busy day today, but to be able to come out there and perform the way we did, and walk out with a win is definitely special." -- Plawecki
Their 11-game, 10-day, five-city road trip in the past, the Mets will return home on Monday for the first of four games against the Giants. Zack Wheeler, who is 6-0 with a 2.18 ERA over his last nine starts, will look to keep rolling in a 7:10 p.m. ET opener opposite left-hander Derek Holland.