PHILADELPHIA -- So enthused was Mickey Callaway with Michael Conforto's first three plate appearances Friday -- a single, a lineout, a walk -- that before Ruben Amaro Jr. left the dugout to coach first base in the top of the ninth inning, the Mets manager mentioned that Conforto might hit a homer.
Two pitches into the at-bat, Callaway nearly felt prophetic, as Conforto rocked a Hector Neris pitch about two dozen feet foul. Believing that was the break the Mets needed in a one-run game, Callaway experienced a moment of "half-jubilation" before sighing in frustration.
"But he let us feel the whole thing two pitches later," Callaway said.
In hammering a go-ahead, two-run homer against the Phillies, Conforto helped deliver a 3-1 win to a Mets team that had gone 15 consecutive innings without a run. The Mets, who had dropped eight of nine coming into the night, still "have a long way to go," as Callaway put it, speaking above the thrumming of music in the postgame clubhouse. But he knew his team was as starved for this victory as any that came before it.
"We haven't had that jubilation feeling in a long time," Callaway said.
Down to their final two outs at Citizens Bank Park and trailing by a run, the Mets received a spark when Wilmer Flores singled off Neris. That brought up Conforto, who had shown signs of emerging from his deep freeze at the plate earlier this week in Cincinnati. When he cranked a foul ball 383 feet to right, Conforto feared he might have missed his chance to put the Mets ahead.
"It's like getting punched in the stomach a little bit," Conforto said. "But you're still in the at-bat. You've still got to keep doing what you can to help the team. So in that situation, it was just take a deep breath, see the next pitch, try to do something positive with it."
Conforto settled back into the box, took a pitch for a ball, then cranked his two-run homer off an advertisement in right-center field, sending the Mets' dugout into hysterics. As Conforto was still settling back toward his spot on the bench, the next batter, Devin Mesoraco, jumped on a first-pitch Neris slider for another homer -- his first hit as a Met.
"It was a fun 30 seconds or so," Conforto said.
In that half-minute, the Mets erased eight innings of frustration. Jacob Arrieta limited them to five hits and two walks in 7 1/3 innings, and did not allow a runner into scoring position after the third. Yet the Mets stayed within striking distance thanks to Steven Matz, who allowed nothing more than Odubel Herrera's homer in five innings, and a stout bullpen.
"The past couple series have been uncharacteristic of this team," Conforto said. "I think we're much better than that. So hopefully this win gets us jump-started a bit."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Escaping trouble: On the ropes for much of the evening, Matz allowed multiple baserunners in four of his five innings. The Phillies' most threatening rally against him unfolded in the fifth, when Matz loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batsman, then fell behind Carlos Santana, 3-0. He came back with three straight fastballs, inducing an inning-ending groundout with the last of them.
"He didn't have anything tonight," Callaway said. "He was up the whole game. But he stayed focused. He didn't let things unravel. And he kept us in the ballgame."
Added Matz: "I think the biggest thing was just making a pitch when it mattered. That's really what was the difference. I could have let it get away from me tonight."
Although the Reds had won eight games before they traded Mesoraco to the Mets, the catcher was personally involved in none of them. In a quirk of the schedule, Cincinnati lost all 18 of the games Mesoraco appeared in this season, then the Mets lost each of the first two he played in their uniform. Mesoraco finally snapped his season-long winless streak Friday.
"I was getting pissed off about it," Mesoraco said, laughing. "I didn't feel like I was doing anything bad. We just kept losing. At this point, I'm happy to get the monkey off my back."
HE SAID IT
"Tonight, he was the Conforto of old." -- Callaway, on Conforto breaking out of his slump
Though he's been unhappy with his recent results -- the Mets have lost three straight games that he's pitched -- Noah Syndergaard has delivered four consecutive quality starts. He'll look to make it five in a row when he takes on Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin in a 7:05 p.m. ET game Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.