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ATL@NYM: Wheeler fans five over 6 2/3 strong frames

It's been a while since the Mets finished a season ahead of the Phillies in the National League East standings.

The two teams meet Monday to begin a four-game series that will give the Mets a chance to pull ahead and potentially finish in front of the Phillies for the first time since 2006, when New York won 97 games before eventually falling to the Cardinals in a wild seven-game National League Championship Series.

The Mets enter the series at 58-70, while the Phillies are at 59-71.

Zack Wheeler's first outing against the Phillies matched the shortest start of his young career. He was knocked around for seven hits, allowing two runs in 4 2/3 innings on July 20. But Wheeler is coming in hot, having thrown three straight quality starts while striking out 21 batters and walking four in his last 19 innings.

"There have been a few times now where I've had to come out of the game early because I'm throwing 20 pitches an inning, falling behind guys and stuff like that," Wheeler said after that outing against the Phillies. "That's not going to work."

The Phillies enter the series coming off a tiring weekend in which they played the longest game in franchise history on Saturday, dropping an 18-inning game to the D-backs that lasted 7 hours, 6 minutes. It was the longest in baseball since June 3, 1989, when the Astros and Dodgers needed 7 hours, 14 minutes to play 22 innings.

Cliff Lee, who has been a model of consistency in three years with the Phillies, enters Monday with a 3.16 ERA, the same mark he ended the 2012 season with. The lefty has allowed seven earned runs in a pair of starts against the Mets this season.

Mets: Flores could play second
Rookie third baseman Wilmer Flores rested his sore ankle Sunday, though he'll continue to play though the injury, manager Terry Collins said.

"I just think that one day today might help him out a little bit," Collins said. "I'm not sure you'll see 100 percent for the rest of this year, just because playing third base, the starting and the stopping takes its toll."

Collins is hoping to try Flores, who is hitting .283 with 11 RBIs in 15 games with the Mets, at second base sometime this week.

Phillies: Brown could return Monday
Domonic Brown left Saturday's marathon game with heel soreness and was held out of the lineup Sunday.

Brown, who has 27 homers and 80 RBIs in his breakout season, said he felt better Sunday and is optimistic he might return for the opener.

"It's definitely getting better," he said.

Worth noting
• Catcher Travis d'Arnaud hit his first Major League home run Sunday.

• Mets reliever Scott Rice, who leads the Majors with 68 appearances, pitched his first full inning in six appearances on Sunday.

• Chase Utley hasn't had a multihit game since Aug. 13, a span of 11 games. He recorded a pinch-hit RBI single Sunday.

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