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07/06/08 11:00 PM ET

Mets outlast Phils on Tatis' blast in 12th

Visitors bounce back after Wagner can't hold lead in ninth

PHILADELPHIA -- Escaping to the visitors' clubhouse almost seven hours after the first pitch was thrown, Ryan Church told Billy Wagner how it would all end.

"He's going to hit a home run," said Church, as the two men watched on television as Fernando Tatis walked up to the plate in the top of the 12th inning. Wagner, who had already blown the save in the ninth, was far from amused by the grandiose prediction.

Even as Tatis drove a two-run homer over the wall in left-center field, sealing a marathon 4-2 win over the Phillies, the Mets' beleaguered closer sarcastically replied, "Oh, now I feel real good."

In all honesty, the win eventually felt special for the Mets after it all sunk in. All of it -- from Oliver Perez's seven shutout innings, to the two-hour, 50-minute rain delay, to Wagner's miscue and finally Tatis' encore performance -- brought the Mets (44-44) back to even ground.

No longer are they falling further behind the Phillies, as there are only 3 1/2 games between the Mets and the National League East lead. And after losing its grip of the division to Philadelphia last season, New York is now on the verge of taking a series from its main NL East rival.

Call it poor timing that Wagner would blow his sixth save of the season on the same day he was named the Mets' only All-Star, but he's admittedly faltered plenty and still been considered one of the best closers in the league. It's when he potentially comes back with the chance to reduce the Phillies' lead to 2 1/2 games on Monday, that's when he wants to be feared.

"You have to get over it, because I could be out there again [Monday]," Wagner said. "And if I play well and I do my job [Monday], we come out of here with things changed a lot."

Everyone picked up the other during Sunday's game. An afternoon contest turned nighttime affair, "Big Game Ollie" had his efforts spoiled by Jayson Werth's two-run homer off Wagner in the bottom of the ninth. Seemingly innocuous before the delay, the image of Carlos Beltran's line-drive home run to put the Mets up, 1-0, in the third inning was watered down substantially by bigger and bigger hits.

A two-run lead would eventually whither with Werth's shot, but reliever Joe Smith could joke after it was all over that he "shut it down" for the Mets in 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in extras.

His was just the final chapter in what was an epic win for the Mets on many fronts.

"That was a huge win for us," manager Jerry Manuel said. "No. 1, it gets us back to level ground. It keeps us in distance of these guys, No. 2. And No. 3, after they hit the home run, we could have folded the tent, but we didn't."

In fact, with one out, up by one and only one inning yet to be cracked open, New York had a chance to seal the win before the rain drops starting pelting the infield tarp, growing into puddles in the outfield. One of many possible end points, the Mets could have beaten the Phillies earlier if Duaner Sanchez had retired Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley in the eighth.

But no matter what, Manuel quipped, the Mets weren't getting out of Citizens Bank Park before 6:30 p.m. ET during this extravaganza. Tatis lacked the adequate amount of descriptors after his two-run blast to win the game. He heard of Church's prediction after the game, but what was even more thrilling was to steal a win on the road against the NL East's current No. 1 club.

"Oh my God, it's unbelievable for us, it's amazing," Tatis said. "Winning a game like that, and playing in extra innings, especially here in Philadelphia, it's amazing for us."

Jon Blau is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.