NEW YORK -- Noah Syndergaard is a pretty good hitter for a pitcher as well as an All-Star on the mound.
So as he stood at third base in the fourth inning Saturday night, the New York Mets right-hander had a good vantage point - almost too good - for what happened as Yoenis Cespedes won a decisive battle with Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson.
Cespedes ended an eight-pitch at-bat by hitting a three-run homer into the outdoor seating area attached to the luxury suites in left field to blow open a close game and vault the Mets to a 12-1 rout of the Phillies at Citi Field.
Three pitches before Cespedes' homer, he hit a foul ball that whizzed past the head of a ducking Syndergaard, who began the rally with a one-out double to the warning track in centerfield.
"That was all reflex - I don't think it was anywhere near me, but it's coming in that fast," Syndergaard said with a grin. "Just trying to hit the deck."
Cespedes fouled off another pitch and took ball three before launching his team-high 26th homer. Syndergaard, who has tied a franchise record for pitchers this season with three homers, said he could tell Cespedes had Hellickson right where he wanted him.
"He's locked in every at-bat, but you can really tell in certain at-bats because he's got that little hip cock kind of thing," Syndergaard said as he wiggled slightly. "So you could tell there was some damage to be done, once that happens."
The Mets are doing plenty of damage now that Cespedes, Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera - all of whom were on the disabled list earlier this month - are back. The trio went 7-for-11 Saturday with two homers, five RBIs and six runs scored as the Nos. 1-2-3 batters in the New York lineup.
"That's contagious at the top right now," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Those guys, they're almost trying to outdo each other."
Reyes singled leading off the third and scored on a homer by Cabrera to give the Mets a 2-1 lead. It was the third homer in the last two games for Cabrera. The two players opened Friday's 9-4 win by hitting homers on consecutive pitches.
In the fourth, Reyes singled Syndergaard to third. Cespedes hit his homer following a pop-up by Cabrera.
"(Bench coach) Dickie Scott looked at me, he said 'Cespedes, he's not going to let those guys show him up tonight,'" Collins said. "And he hits one 500 feet. I think they're playing off of each other. I think that's a good thing to have."
Cabrera led off a six-run seventh with a walk and also singled for the final hit in an inning in which the Mets sent 11 batters to the plate. Alejandro De Aza hit a two-run double three batters before Kelly Johnson hit a pinch-hit grand slam.
Neil Walker added a solo homer in the eighth for the Mets (66-63), who have won four straight and six of seven. New York has scored 50 runs in those seven games after scoring 48 runs in the previous 12 games, during which it went 4-8.
The Mets pulled within 2 1/2 games of the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League's second wild card spot by virtue of the latter's 3-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics, New York trailed St. Louis by 5 1/2 games on Aug. 19.
"The energy's just different in the room right now," Collins said.
Syndergaard (12-7) cruised to his second straight win by allowing just one run on two hits - a third-inning homer by Freddy Galvis and a seventh-inning single by Maikel Franco - and two walks while striking out seven over seven innings. He has allowed just that one run over 15 innings in his last two starts.
The Phillies (59-70) have lost four of five and have scored one run or fewer three times in that span.
"No offense to talk about, other than Freddy's home run," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "Last two nights - how many earned runs? Plenty of earned runs given up. Bad pitching."
Hellickson (10-8) had his four-decision winning streak snapped after allowing five runs, seven hits and three walks while striking out four in four innings. He was 4-0 with a 2.35 ERA in his previous six starts.
"It's a good lineup that's hot right now," Hellickson said. "Just can't make too many mistakes like we did tonight."
NOTES: The Mets placed OF Justin Ruggiano (left shoulder) on the 15-day disabled list and recalled IF T.J. Rivera from Triple-A Las Vegas. Rivera was optioned to Las Vegas when 2B Neil Walker returned from paternity leave Friday but never left New York. ... Slumping Mets RF Jay Bruce, who struck out in all four at-bats Friday, did not play Saturday. Bruce is batting just .160 since being acquired from the Cincinnati Reds on Aug. 1. ... The Phillies activated C A.J. Ellis and optioned C Jorge Alfaro to Double-A Reading. Ellis, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday, is expected to start Sunday. ... Phillies 1B Ryan Howard appeared in his 1,552nd game, which broke a tie with his former teammate, 2B Chase Utley, for seventh place in franchise history.
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