NEW YORK — Bartolo Colon kept his helmet on this time.
A day after his 42nd birthday, the rotund pitcher moved into a tie for the major league lead with his seventh win and singled for his second hit in a decade. The New York Mets beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-3 on May 25 to stop a three-game losing streak.
“I wish I got cheers for a foul ball,” teammate Michael Cuddyer said. “He’s must-see TV when he comes to the plate.”
Wilmer Flores hit a tiebreaking three-run shot off Justin De Fratus in the sixth inning for his career-best seventh homer this season. The Mets improved to 18-6 at home — they are 7-15 on the road.
Colon has been a big part of the Citi Field entertainment. His body resembles that of a sumo wrestler more than a 21st-Century pitcher, with a thick midsection and bulging biceps.
When he poked an opposite-field single to right at Atlanta on April 12, his helmet spun off in the batter’s box. This time, he hooked a 77 mph slider from Severino Gonzalez into left, but the helmet remained atop his head.
“It’s been good. This year it’s only dropped once,” he said through a translator. “I love to get a hit just to hear the fans cheering and get all crazy about me getting on base.”
He took second on Curtis Granderson’s single and advanced to third on Juan Lagares’ flyout to center. In his previous start against St. Louis, Colon neglected to tag up at third on Cuddyer’s flyout to Randal Grichuk. This time, Granderson gave him a heads up.
“Make sure you tag — or you can steal the bag,” Colon remembered being told.
He had struggled in his previous two outings, allowing 15 runs in losses to Milwaukee and St. Louis. He gave up Chase Utley’s two-run single in the third and Ryan Howard’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the fifth, a ball Lagares caught on the warning track in center.
“I thought I had it,” Howard said.
Colon (7-3) allowed six hits in six innings, benefiting from plate umpire Larry Vanover’s seemingly wide strike zone. Five of Colon’s six strikeouts were looking, including Ben Revere, Freddy Galvis and Utley opening the game.
“He’s been pitching for 50 years,” Mets Manager Terry Collins said playfully. “I just think it’s a matter of him locating.”
Colon tied Michael Wacha of St. Louis and Felix Hernandez of Seattle for the big league lead in wins.
“There’s not a whole lot that Bartolo does that does not entertain us and everybody else in the stadium,” Mets catcher Anthony Recker said. “He’s fun to watch — all the time.”
Flores also has delighted Mets fans.
With the score 3-all, Daniel Murphy led off the sixth with a single off Elvis Araujo (1-1), De Fratus walked Cuddyer, and Flores homered off the original 16-foot left-field wall, over the 8-foot blue fence erected in front of it for the 2012 season.
Jeurys Familia pitched the ninth for his 14th save in 15 chances, completing the Mets’ 18th win in 23 games against the Phillies.
Collins held a rare in-season team meeting after a May 24 defeat in Pittsburgh. “This isn’t football,” he said. “You give more than one speech a month, they’re going to turn you off.”
(RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer)