NEW YORK - The first time Kyle Farnsworth faced Jimmy Rollins, it was 2001 at Veterans Stadium. He encountered Chase Utley in 2004 and Ryan Howard in 2005. Farnsworth, reincarnated as a 38-year-old Mets closer, recorded the first two outs of Saturday's ninth inning. That is when Rollins stepped to the plate.
"It felt like old times out there," Howard said.
The elder Phillies produced a two-out rally seen countless times before. They won, 5-4, because those veteran infielders amassed nine hits and two walks. In the ninth, Rollins walked. Utley singled. Howard ripped through a 95-m.p.h. fastball to single home the winning run.
"They've done it before," Ryne Sandberg said. "They're big in that situation. It was good to see that combination."
The Phillies manager delivered a message to his team with a brief pregame meeting Friday. The two subsequent Phillies wins were not pristine, but they lifted a downtrodden roster from the National League East's basement.
They are 17-18, and their core of Rollins, Utley, and Howard is a large reason why it is not worse. Howard went 10 days without a multihit game in May. He rapped four hits Saturday.
Rollins scored three times, once on a solo blast in the second inning. Utley atoned for a baserunning error in the seventh that erased the potential go-ahead run. He was caught stealing third when Mets reliever Scott Rice looked twice at Utley, who went on first move. Howard followed with a single to right that would have scored Utley from second.
The ninth-inning magic was made possible by Mike Adams, who escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth. Utley assisted there, too. The Phillies, during a mound conference, decided to intentionally walk Eric Campbell, a career minor-leaguer playing in his first game, to load the bases.
But when Utley saw Bobby Abreu climb to the top step in the Mets dugout as a possible pinch-hitter, he sprinted to the mound. Adams had already thrown an intentional ball to Campbell.
"Hey, let's go after this guy," Utley told Adams.
"That got the juices going," Adams said, "and after that it was pretty fun."
"That was pretty neat to watch," Sandberg said.
Campbell struck out. Wilmer Flores walked. Abreu, released by the Phillies at the end of spring training, took Ball 1.
"Aw man," Howard thought at first base, "this is going to be interesting."
Abreu swung at a 90-m.p.h. fastball, which bounced into Adams' glove. Adams threw to first to end the inning.
Jake Diekman inherited a one-out, bases-loaded jam left by Kyle Kendrick in the sixth. Campbell, a man nicknamed "Soup" by his teammates, swatted a 97-m.p.h. fastball deep enough to right for a go-ahead sacrifice fly. That was the only damage.
Kendrick was not sharp. He did not walk a batter until the sixth, but two free passes that inning contributed to a quick hook at 89 pitches. His teammates jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first only for it to evaporate when Kendrick grabbed the ball.
He threw David Wright an 0-2 change-up down the middle and above the knees. That was unwise. Wright blasted his first homer since opening day to snap a career-long 136-at-bat homer drought.
Fourteen of the next 15 Mets failed to reach base. Kendrick started the sixth at 66 pitches, and looked primed for a deep outing. He walked Juan Lagares on six pitches. Daniel Murphy singled to left. And Wright plopped a double past an outstretched Marlon Byrd in right. Pitching coach Bob McClure visited to calm Kendrick. Sandberg's hook came two batters later. Kendrick's ERA is 3.98.