By ROB MAADDI AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Jay Bruce homered for the third straight game and drove in three runs, Robert Gsellman threw six sharp innings and the New York Mets moved closer to securing a wild-card berth with a 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.
The defending NL champions reduced their magic number to one. The Mets began the night atop the wild-card race, with San Francisco one game back and St. Louis two behind.
Gsellman (4-2) scattered seven hits and struck out seven in another strong performance. The rookie right-hander has allowed only three earned runs in his last four starts.
More Mets fans were inside a half-empty ballpark on a wet, chilly night when Ryan Howard began his final series in front of the home crowd. The blue-and-orange faithful screamed “Let’s Go Mets” and their “Bruuuuuce” chants drowned out boos from Phillies fans.
Stuck in a slump for nearly two months since being traded to the Mets, Bruce extended his hitting streak to six games. He got three hits.
Philadelphia starter Alec Asher (2-1) retired the first 11 batters before he ran into trouble with two outs in the fourth when Yoenis Cespedes and Curtis Granderson hit consecutive singles.
Bruce and T.J. Rivera followed with back-to-back RBI singles for a 2-1 lead.
Bruce connected in the seventh, sending his 33rd homer the opposite-way to left field. The Mets added two runs, including another RBI single by Bruce.
Earlier in the inning, Howard let Cespedes’ infield pop fall untouched near the first-base bag, allowing a runner to score from third.
Howard hit a double to deep center his first time up and was 1 for 4. Cameron Rupp’s sacrifice fly followed Howard’s double and put the Phillies ahead 1-0.
Howard, the 2006 NL MVP, is the last player remaining from the 2008 World Series championship team. The Phillies plan to pay him a $10 million buyout rather than exercise a $25 million option for 2017.
Bruce is 10 for 20 with four homers and eight RBIS in his last six games. … Mets are 15-2 after an off day. … Mets tied a franchise record with 106 homers on the road. They already have a franchise-best 217 homers.
Phillies manager Pete Mackanin was ejected for the first time this season in the eighth inning by first baseman umpire Will Little. Mackanin perhaps thought Cespedes swung at an inside pitch from Michael Mariot and was tossed once he walked onto the field.
Phillies: SS Freddy Galvis left the game because of tightness in his right hamstring.
Mackanin emerged from a long meeting with coaches and front-office executives hopeful the team will add a veteran hitter in the offseason. “I would like to get a good solid proven hitter somewhere on the field,” he said. “Where that is right now will be determined by who is available and what kind of a deal, if any, they could make.”
RHP Bartolo Colon (14-8, 3.42 ERA) starts for the Mets against RHP Phil Klein (0-1, 8.22) for the Phillies. Colon is 10-5 vs. Philadelphia.
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