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Morning Briefing: Mets loving City of Brotherly Love

PHILADELPHIA --

FIRST PITCH: The New York Mets seem to like the City of Brotherly Love.

Over the past four seasons at Citizens Bank Park, the Mets have produced a 26-8 record. They have won nine of their last 10 series in Philly.

Overall, the Amazin's are 11-1 against the Philadelphia Phillies this season.

On Thursday, the Mets aim for their first four-game sweep of the Phillies since Sept. 6-9, 2002. Jonathon Niese (8-9, 3.80 ERA) opposes right-hander Aaron Harang (5-14, 4.67) at 7:05 p.m. ET.

The Mets' magic number to clinch the division is down to 31.

THURSDAY'S NEWS REPORTS:

  • Bartolo Colon started relying on his breaking ball and tossed seven scoreless innings to save an overtaxed bullpen and the Mets beat the Phillies, 9-4, Wednesday. Michael Cuddyer continued to rebound since returning from the DL. He went 3-for-5 with a double, homer and three RBIs. The Mets opened a season-high 6 1/2-game lead over the Washington Nationals, who lost to the San Diego Padres in D.C. The Amazin's (70-56) are now on pace for 90 wins. About the only blemish on Wednesday: a four-run eighth inning during which Eric O'Flaherty continued to struggle. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Record and at MLB.com.

  • Steven Matz breezed through a rehab start with Double-A Binghamton, allowing one hit in six scoreless innings against Erie. Matz required only 56 pitches. He “probably” will get one more rehab start to continue to build up his pitch count, general manager Sandy Alderson told ESPN.com. “Last outing, I felt like I was pretty far off the mark,” Matz told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. “But today I felt a lot closer, a lot more comfortable on the mound. That's a big thing for me, just feeling comfortable out there. … I feel ready. Pitch-wise, jumping from 60 to 100 pitches would probably be a pretty big jump, but we'll see what happens." Read more in Newsday and at MLB.com.

  • Tyler Kepner in the Times checks in with the Nats about the division race. On the Mets' success, Bryce Harper tells Kepner: “I really don't care. … If we don't win, it really doesn't matter. We've just got to keep winning ballgames. If something happens and we don't make it, it's part of the game. We've just got to keep playing hard and play till the end.” Said reliever Drew Storen: “The last couple of times we made the playoffs, we kind of coasted in. That's good because you get a physical breather, but at the same time it was tough to build momentum going into the playoffs. This is actually an opportunity for us.”

  • A day after Phillies bench coach Larry Bowa was ejected for objecting to a quick pitch by Mets reliever Hansel Robles, there was no incident between the teams on Wednesday. Bowa did speak before the game. He emphasized that he was upset with Robles delivering the pitch with Darin Ruf's head down, which can be dangerous since he would not have seen the ball had it been headed for him. “You can say old school, new school, whatever school you want, we're talking about injuries in the game of baseball," Bowa said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "And they're doing a great job with [protecting] the catcher, short, and second, trying to keep them in the game. A hitter can get killed on a 95 mile-an-hour fastball when he looks up and the ball's right there." Bowa added that Daniel Murphy's bat flip after homering on Monday was “weak.” MLB reportedly is investigating Bowa for demonstrably threatening a retaliatory pitch against Murphy. Read more in Newsday and at the Post.

  • General manager Sandy Alderson told the Post's Mike Puma there is no thought being given right now to negotiating a new deal with Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes contractually must be released after the World Series, at which point the Mets would be forbidden from re-signing him. “I'm in the moment,” Alderson told Puma (via Twitter). Alderson also told Puma that Kevin Plawecki, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Erik Goeddel likely will be among the first additions when rosters expand Tuesday. Other logical call-ups/activations from the DL are Dario Alvarez, Eric Campbell, Lucas Duda, Matz, Bobby Parnell and Eric Young Jr.

  • Young, who also is expected to be promoted from Las Vegas when rosters expand, expressed excitement about rejoining the organization on Saturday in a trade with the Atlanta Braves.

  • Columnist David Lennon in Newsday wonders about Terry Collins' future beyond this season.

  • With the Boston Red Sox visiting Citi Field this weekend, Steven Marcus in Newsday revisits 1986.

  • Johnny Monell had four hits and four RBIs as Las Vegas beat New Orleans, 10-6. Josh Rodriguez had a two-run homer -- the 100th long ball of his pro career -- and Binghamton beat Erie, 3-1. Tomas Nido had a tiebreaking two-run single in the eighth and Savannah held on for a 4-3 win against Asheville. Erik Manoah tossed six scoreless innings and Kingsport blanked Greeneville, 1-0. Read the full minor league recap here.

  • From the bloggers … Blogging Mets wonders if Cespedes could be an MVP candidate. … Mets Report believes the team still has some concerns.

BIRTHDAYS: Brian McRae turns 48. ... Mike Maddux is 54. ... Ryan Fraser is 27.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

YOU'RE UP: Should the Mets have Matz make another rehab start?