Jay Bruce is showing the New York Mets exactly why they traded for him last season.
Bruce homered twice, including the tiebreaking shot in a testy eighth inning to lead New York over the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 on Monday night.
"I know it's in there," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Bruce's pop, "and I'm glad it's right now because we're not swinging the bats as a team."
Recently bumped up to the cleanup spot, Bruce put the Mets in front 4-2 with a towering, two-run drive off his own digital image on the video board in right field. He connected on a 1-2 pitch from left-hander Joely Rodriguez, giving Bruce four homers through seven games this season and three in the past two days after many expected New York to deal him away last winter.
The three-time All-Star had eight home runs while batting .219 in 50 games for the Mets last season after they acquired him from Cincinnati at the Aug. 1 trade deadline.
"I want to be a good player and want to help this team win," Bruce said. "I believe we have a legitimate chance to win the World Series, and I want to be one of the pieces."
Tempers flared two batters earlier when Phillies reliever Edubray Ramos threw a first-pitch fastball over Asdrubal Cabrera's head – perhaps seeking revenge for Cabrera's two-handed bat flip after hitting a game-winning homer against Ramos last Sept. 22 as the Mets were chasing a playoff berth.
Ramos acknowledged the bat flip bothered him "a little" but said the pitch just got away.
Cabrera wasn't happy about the location.
"If you throw at somebody, throw down," he said. "What the (heck) are you doing?"
Cabrera was restrained by Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp, and players from both teams came to the top step of the dugout. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin was ejected by plate umpire Allan Porter, apparently for questioning Porter's warning to both clubs following the pitch.
"He threw me out for no reason," Mackanin said.
Ramos (0-1) eventually walked Cabrera and then struck out Yoenis Cespedes before being lifted for Rodriguez with two outs.
Addison Reed allowed Brock Stassi's solo homer in the ninth but recovered to earn his second save. Stassi's drive to right-center was his first major league hit.
Jerry Blevins (1-0) got two outs for the Mets, aided by a fine defensive play from catcher Travis d'Arnaud and Cabrera at shortstop.
New York played its first road game after going 3-3 on a season-opening homestand.
"Wins in April are important and this is one we grabbed," Collins said.
Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff yielded two runs and three hits with seven strikeouts and four walks in seven strong innings.
Michael Saunders had two hits and an RBI for the Philadelphia. Saunders' RBI single and Rupp's bases-loaded walk put the Phillies ahead 2-0 in the first against Jacob deGrom.
Bruce's solo shot to right in the fourth gave New York a homer in six straight games. Neil Walker tied it with a sacrifice fly that scored Bruce in the seventh after a throwing error by second baseman Cesar Hernandez.
STRUGGLING AT THE TOP
New York leadoff man Jose Reyes went 0 for 4, dropping to 1 for 27 (.037) this season. ''I've got the FBI out looking for the real Jose Reyes,'' Collins joked. The manager has no plans to sit Reyes, though. ''You have to let him work through it,'' he said.
ON THE MOUND
In his second start since undergoing elbow surgery last September, deGrom settled down to pitch six solid innings. He gave up two runs and six hits with two walks and three strikeouts, including the 500th of his career when he fanned Saunders in the sixth. "That tells you what kind of stuff he's got," Collins said. "Even on nights when he's off, he gets you deep in the game."
Philadelphia's Odubel Herrera is batting .346 and has a hit in every game this season after going 1 for 4. He also has reached base safely in 17 straight games dating to last season.
Mets: RHP Matt Harvey (1-0, 2.70 ERA) makes his second start of the season in the second game of the three-game series Tuesday night. Harvey has had success in April throughout his career, going 11-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 16 starts.
Phillies: RHP Clay Buchholz makes his second start for Philadelphia. The former Boston pitcher allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings during his Phillies debut, a 7-4 loss Thursday at Cincinnati.
Monday's MLB Results:
Colorado Rockies 3-5 San Diego Padres
Philadelphia Phillies 3-4 New York Mets
Pittsburgh Pirates 1-7 Cincinnati Reds
Washington Nationals 14-6 St.Louis Cardinals
Chicago Cubs 3-2 Los Angeles Dodgers