By AARON BRACY
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Mets closer Jenrry Mejia did not have his best stuff Sunday. He had a good reason for that.
Mejia revealed after the game he has been pitching with a hernia problem for three weeks.
Ryan Howard had the game-ending single off Mejia with two outs in the ninth inning after pinch-hitter Marlon Byrd had a tying hit, and the Philadelphia Phillies pulled out a 7-6 victory over New York on Sunday.
Mejia said he saw the Phillies’ team doctor on Saturday and was given medication to cope with the pain but expects to have surgery in the offseason to repair the problem.
“Doctors say if it bothers me too much to let him fix it, but I don’t want to let him know because I want to keep pitching,” Mejia said. “I want to take some pills and keep pitching. I think I can keep going.”
Mejia, who is 17 of 20 on save opportunities, was held out of Friday’s game due to a right calf injury.
“Everything’s OK,” Mejia said. “There’s no excuse.”
The Mets appeared positioned for their 12th victory in the last 13 games against the Phillies in Philadelphia before the ninth.
Cody Asche led off with a double off Mejia (5-5) and scored when Byrd lined a hit up the middle. Two outs later, Byrd stole second and, after getting the count to 3-2, the Mets intentionally walked Chase Utley.
Howard followed with a single to right on a full-count pitch.
Mejia would’ve liked to continue the at-bat against Utley.
“I want to finish (against Utley) but I’m not the manager,” Mejia said. “I have to do whatever the manager wants me to do. A little bit surprised but I can’t do anything. Terry Collins is the manager. I’m just the player. I have to do whatever he wants me to do.”
Collins stood by his decision.
“I’m not going to let (Utley) beat me,” he said. “Howard’s been struggling. You’ve got to make him beat you. In my book, that’s the way I look at it.”
Utley singled, tripled, homered and drove in three runs for the Phillies, who snapped a five-game skid against the Mets.
Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud homered for New York.
Zack Wheeler allowed three runs on three hits in six innings. Wheeler continued to pitch well, though, and is 4-0 with a 1.94 ERA in his last eight games.
Juan Lagares went 2 for 3 with a triple and two RBIs, and every New York starting position player had a hit.
Kyle Kendrick extended his struggles this season. The right-hander was charged with six runs _ five earned _ on 10 hits in five innings. Kendrick’s ERA rose to 4.88, and he is to 0-1 with a 6.85 ERA in four starts against the Mets this season.
“He struggled with balls over the plate,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.
Phillies: Prized prospect Jesse Biddle makes his second start for Class-A Clearwater on Monday since being shut down for a mental break on June 23. The 2010 Phillies first-round pick tossed five no-hit innings to earn the victory in Clearwater’s 4-0 win last Wednesday against Daytona.
Mets: Rookie right-hander Jacob deGrom will be evaluated in New York on Monday after experiencing shoulder soreness in the days following Thursday’s start against Washington. DeGrom, who is 6-5 with a 2.87 ERA in 16 starts, will not make his scheduled start on Tuesday against the Nationals.
The teams close out the four-game series at 1:05 p.m. Monday when Phillies right-hander David Buchanan (6-5, 4.39) faces New York lefty Jonathon Niese (5-8, 3.51). Buchanan is filling in for injured lefty Cliff Lee, who is out for the season with an elbow strain. Niese has lost four straight games.
Mets left-handed reliever Josh Edgin struck out all four batters he faced. Edgin is 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA with 19 strikeouts and three walks in 22 innings.
“He’s done a nice job,” Collins said. “He got us to the ninth inning with the lead, which is what you want.”
After David Wright opened the third with a single and Duda flew out, d’Arnaud lifted a medium fly to left field that Brown appeared to pull up on too soon. Fans booed the left fielder, who has experienced offensive and defensive troubles this season.
“It appeared to be catchable,” Sandberg said.
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