But that didn’t stop the Mets from trying in a two-run loss that could have been so much worse. When manager Terry Collins walked into Citi Field’s press conference room late Saturday for his daily debriefing, he sat down and simply laughed.

“If you came to the game, you got entertained,” he said.

Perhaps this one was a long time coming. Since Aug. 20, the Mets have constructed the NL’s best record, despite playing much of it without three of their top four starting pitchers. They are 12-5 in games started by Lugo, Gsellman, Montero and Gabriel Ynoa, four pitchers they never anticipated using in the throes of a pennant race. They’ve done as well as they reasonably could have expected had all their starters been healthy, so they could hardly complain when the Phillies held on for the win.

Bruce's 30th homer

Bruce’s 30th homer

PHI@NYM: Bruce smacks first career pinch-hit home run

Jay Bruce hits a solo homer to right for his first career pinch-hit long ball and the Mets’ 13th, which sets a franchise record

More than that, the Mets felt energized by the comeback they engineered, stringing together seven runs with a lineup composed largely of September callups. T.J. Rivera drove home two of them, Gavin Cecchini knocked in a pair, and Brandon Nimmo and Ty Kelly added one RBI apiece. When pinch-hitter Jay Bruce homered with one out in the ninth, thousands of fans rose to their feet. When Eric Campbell and Michael Conforto followed that up with consecutive walks, bench coach Dick Scott turned to Collins and predicted that Lucas Duda would hit a walk-off homer.

Cecchini's RBI double

Cecchini’s RBI double

PHI@NYM: Cecchini belts a liner to plate Duda

Gavin Cecchini sends a line-drive double to the wall and Lucas Duda scores to trim the Phillies’ lead to 10-7

“You’re always trying to win the game regardless of what the score is,” Cecchini said. “We weren’t going out there and just going through the motions.”

The Mets may not have completed their comeback, but it highlighted the type of gumption this team has employed all season. They fell into a tie with the Giants atop the National League Wild Card standings, but New York technically still holds the top spot by virtue of a 4-3 edge in the season series with San Francisco.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t pull it off,” Collins said. “But I absolutely tip my cap to the job those young kids did tonight.”

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Source: Mets News / Young Mets keep battling with spirited rally