Vince Velasquez, Phillies Stomach Tough Loss to Jay Bruce, Mets

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NEW YORK -- Jay Bruce and Bryce Harper are not the same guy. 

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Or maybe they are.

On Sunday, the Phillies were beaten up by Harper, who smashed a two-run home run and a three-run home run to lift the Washington Nationals to victory.

Three nights later, and a few hours up I-95, Bruce did the same thing Wednesday. He clubbed a three-run homer and a two-run homer to account for all of the New York Mets' runs in a 5-4 win over the Phillies (see Instant Replay).

The Phillies' fourth loss in five games this season to the Mets was tough to swallow for a few reasons.

First, the Phillies continued to show late-inning moxie. They tied the game with a run in the eighth inning on a double by Aaron Altherr, a ground out by Odubel Herrera and two-out hit by Michael Saunders. It was the sixth run that they have scored in the eighth inning of the last four games. Three times they've tied the game and once they've taken the lead.

The tie didn't last long as Edubray Ramos gave up a leadoff single to Yoenis Cespedes in the eighth. That was followed by Bruce's killer two-run homer on a 94-mph fastball.

The second reason this one was tough to swallow was that the Phils' offense -- or lack of -- is giving this club no margin for error. Maikel Franco, the team's No. 4 hitter, and Tommy Joseph, the No. 6 hitter, both went hitless in four at-bats. They are among three regulars (along with Cameron Rupp) hitting under .200.

Franco is 0 for his last 21. He did have an RBI ground out early in the game, but left five runners on base. He is hitting .148 and could be in line for a night off Thursday with hard-throwing Noah Syndergaard on the mound for the Mets in the series finale.

"We'd like to score more runs," manager Pete Mackanin lamented.

The final reason that this loss was tough to swallow was that the Phils got a pretty good start from Vince Velasquez, the hard-throwing, electric-armed right-hander who could really help this rebuild if he can harness his potential and develop into a consistent contributor.

"Vinny really pitched well for the first five innings," Mackanin said. "He had them off balance. He was changing speeds. Great changeup. Hitting locations. It looked like he was cruising."

He was cruising.

Until the sixth inning.

Vinny Velo turned in 1-2-3 innings in the third, fourth and fifth innings. He took a shutout into the sixth inning and that's where the walls came tumbling down. He allowed four hits and a walk in the inning and the Mets took the lead on Bruce's first homer of the night, a three-run shot to right with two outs. Three of the hits and the walk that Velasquez gave up in that sixth inning came with two outs, so he was begging for trouble, and, of course, he found it when he hung a first-pitch changeup to Bruce. Before Bruce came to the plate, Velasquez allowed a two-out single to Asdrubal Cabrera and a walk to Yoenis Cespedes.

"Coming right out of the gate, I had full control of everything," said Velasquez, who was tagged for five hits and five runs in five innings against the Mets in his previous start. "I felt more relaxed. Bruce is just a mistake hitter. You make one mistake and he can turn it around. I know not to do that again. That could've been eliminated if I got out Cabrera or could have gotten out Cespedes without walking him. Again, that's on my part."

Velasquez did take some positives from the outing.

"I made some adjustments," he said. "I'm not happy with the outcome, but I'm kind of happy with my performance.

"It was just a matter of being in control, not trying to do too much, not trying to be a powerful pitcher, just being in control of my situation. I tried to get ahead of the guys and put them away. I got some groundballs on two-seamers. There were a lot of hard-hit balls that were outs, too. But, again, I'm pretty comfortable with the performance. There's more work to be done. I'm not going to get complacent."

Bruce has six home runs on the season and four are against the Phillies. He has hit safely in his last 10 games against the Phils and is hitting .471 (16 for 34) with six homers and 15 RBIs in those games.

Since the start of the 2015 season, the Mets have out-homered the Phils 81-35.

Aaron Nola pitches on Thursday night.

He'd be wise to keep the ball down.

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