PHILADELPHIA — After a rough first inning, rookie Jerad Eickhoff nearly matched veteran Bartolo Colon's dominance.
The 42-year-old Colon tossed five-hit ball and struck out eight in seven sharp innings, Michael Cuddyer hit a long homer and the NL East-leading New York Mets beat the Philadelphia Phillies 9-4 on Wednesday night.
Eickhoff (1-1) gave up three runs in the first and then retired 16 straight at one point. He went six innings, allowing four runs — three earned — and struck out six in his second career start.
"I had a little trouble getting settled," he said. "It was my first start here. The balls were catching more of the plate."
Eickhoff, acquired in the trade that sent ace left-hander Cole Hamels to Texas, was impressive in his major league debut last Friday at Miami. He earned the win by pitching six scoreless innings.
"I think he was a little nervous pitching in front of the home crowd for the first time," interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "He was outstanding after the first inning."
Colon (11-11) bounced back from a rough outing in Colorado, helping the Mets improve to 18-6 since July 31. They took a 6 1-2 game lead over second-place Washington, which lost 6-5 to San Diego.
Cuddyer had an RBI double in the first inning off Eickhoff and hit a two-run shot into the second deck in left field off Hector Neris in the eighth.
The Mets have dominated the Phillies, winning eight straight, 11 of 12 this season and 23 of the last 28 meetings. They will go for a four-game sweep Thursday night with plenty of visiting fans chanting "Let's Go Mets!" in Philadelphia's cozy ballpark.
After the teams tied an NL record by combining for 11 home runs on Monday, they connected for three on Tuesday and only one on Wednesday.
The Phillies scored seven runs off Jacob deGrom and five off Noah Syndergaard in the first two games, but did nothing against Colon, who entered with a 4.90 ERA.
They rallied against the bullpen in the eighth. Andres Blanco had an RBI groundout against Eric O'Flaherty and Cameron Rupp hit a two-run double off Carlos Torres. Pinch-hitter Jeff Francoeur had an RBI single off Tyler Clippard, but the righty struck out Darnell Sweeney to leave two runners on. Clippard got the final four outs for his 19th save and second with the Mets.
Yoenis Cespedes had an RBI triple in a three-run ninth for New York.
Phillies reliever Elvis Araujo gave up his first hit since July 11. He faced 38 consecutive batters without allowing a hit, the longest streak in the majors this season.
Phillies: 3B Maikel Franco (left wrist fracture), on the DL since Aug. 12, is expected to return this season, according to interim manager Pete Mackanin.
Mets LHP Jonathon Niese (8-9, 3.80) faces Phillies RHP Aaron Harang (5-14, 4.67) in the series finale. Niese is 10-6 with a 2.77 ERA in 21 career starts vs. Philadelphia. The Mets are 7-0 in his last seven starts against the Phillies. Harang is 6-7 with a 3.94 ERA in 15 starts vs. New York.