Mets 3, Phillies 2

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NEW YORK (AP)—Jae Seo pitched one of the best games of his career and got a ticket to the minors. Streaking slugger Cliff Floyd made one of the best catches of his life and earned an “MVP!” chant.

Seo allowed one hit in seven shutout innings, and Floyd homered and saved two runs with a spectacular grab to lead the New York Mets past the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 Wednesday night.

Despite the stellar performance, Seo was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after the game to make room for right-hander Kris Benson, who will come off the disabled list Thursday and make his first start of the season.

“Maybe if he threw a no-hitter, I might have had second thoughts. Certainly a perfect game, that’s really impressive,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said.

Victor Diaz also connected to end a long slump, and Floyd added an RBI single as New York won for the third time in four games following a four-game losing streak.

Chase Utley and Bobby Abreu hit consecutive homers off Braden Looper in the ninth, but the last-place Phillies have dropped 10 of 15 overall. They haven’t won consecutive games since April 18, and they’ve scored two runs or fewer in 11 of their last 21.

“We’re supposed to score more runs, of course,” Abreu said. “We’ve been having problems with runners in scoring position.”

Changing speeds and mixing pitches beautifully, Seo (2-1) held Philadelphia hitless until David Bell’s clean single to left with two outs in the fifth.

The right-hander matched a career high with eight strikeouts and walked two. Roberto Hernandez pitched a perfect eighth, and Looper finished the three-hitter for his fifth save in seven chances.

After giving up the two homers, Looper struck out Pat Burrell and Jason Michaels to end it.

With a runner on and one out in the seventh, Michaels sent a drive to deep left field. Floyd calmly retreated to the wall, leaped and robbed Michaels of a two-run homer that would have cut New York’s lead to 3-2.

“Defense is not my forte, but I take pride in it anyway,” Floyd said. “I usually leave that stuff to (Mike) Cameron, Andruw Jones and Torii Hunter. I think that’s the first catch I’ve ever made like that.”

It prompted the Shea Stadium crowd of 21,356 to begin chanting “MVP! MVP!” for Floyd—albeit a bit early in the season.

“I hope I’m hearing it 4 1/2 months from now,” he said. “I’m in a zone.”

Floyd also extended his hitting streak to a career-high 20 games, longest in the majors this year, and boosted his batting average to .391 with eight homers and 25 RBIs.

“I was chanting Get Him Out!” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He’s on everything. He’s big and strong, and he’s very dangerous.”

Floyd got a standing ovation after the inning and a high-five from Seo, who pumped his first and waited for his teammate near the dugout.

Seo fanned seven in the first four innings, including Utley, Abreu and Burrell in succession in the fourth. Seo has a 2.00 ERA in three major league starts this season, yet he wasn’t upset by the demotion.

“I understand that Benson is coming up here and I have to go back down. I accept that,” Seo said through a translator. “I’m not really feeling shocked by anything management has done. I continue to work on my game in the minors. I want to be ready to return when the team needs me. I was glad to see Benson in the clubhouse. Rather than focusing on these events, I was more focused on tonight’s game.”

Phillies starter Randy Wolf (1-4) entered 5-0 with a 1.99 ERA in his career at Shea. He pitched pretty well but couldn’t match Seo, allowing three runs, five hits and four walks in seven innings. The left-hander has lost three straight starts since beating the Mets 5-4 on April 18.

“It was a step in the right direction for me, throwing better pitches,” Wolf said.

Diaz hit his fourth homer leading off the third, snapping an 0-for-21 slump that included three strikeouts Tuesday night.

With Cameron also coming off the disabled list Thursday, Diaz could have been ticketed for the minors, too. But he’s sticking around—reliever Royce Ring was optioned to Norfolk instead.

Carlos Beltran doubled to start the fourth and scored on Floyd’s single to right, running through a curious stop sign from third-base coach Manny Acta.

Floyd tomahawked Wolf’s high fastball over the right-center field fence in the sixth, making it 3-0 with his second homer in two nights.

“He’s as locked in as anyone I’ve ever seen,” Randolph said. “He’s been carrying us. I don’t like to say that, because everyone contributes. But we’ll keep riding him, keep riding that horse.”

The big lefty has five home runs off left-handers this season. He has reached base in all 23 of his games and owns the longest hitting streak by a Mets player since Mike Piazza hit in 21 consecutive games in 2000.

“He’s the best player in the universe right now,” Wolf said.

Notes

It was the first time this season the Phillies hit back-to-back homers. … Seo also struck out eight on Sept. 21, 2003, against Montreal. … Piazza has one hit in his last 21 at-bats.

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