Mets-Phillies Preview

Bartolo Colon's at-bats may be comical, but there's nothing funny about his success on the mound.

Colon looks to become the first pitcher in the majors to reach six wins Sunday and help the New York Mets to back-to-back victories in the conclusion of this three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Colon (5-1, 2.90 ERA) has become a fan favorite with New York (19-11), winning a team-high 20 games over the past two seasons. However, it's his at-bats that have only made him more endearing to Mets fans, as the career .076 hitter awkwardly swings the bat and usually loses his helmet in the process.

There's nothing clumsy about the right-hander when he's holding the ball.

Colon, who turns 42 later this month, is tied with teammate Matt Harvey and three others for baseball's wins lead. He's also put together a stretch of 34 1-3 innings without a walk, the longest active streak in the majors and the longest by a Met since Bret Saberhagen went 47 in 1994.

"He lives and dies by command. And he has to be brave," manager Terry Collins told MLB's official website. "He thinks, 'If you're going to beat me, you have to swing the bats.' Hitting is not easy, and he goes about it that way."

Colon struck out a season-high nine while giving up a solo homer and six hits overall in 7 2-3 innings of Tuesday's 3-2 win over Baltimore.

"His ball moves so much," center fielder Juan Lagares said. "You can see it from anywhere on the field."

Colon went 3-1 with a 3.21 ERA in four starts against the Phillies (11-20) last season, but he was dominant in those victories with a 1.59 ERA. He won both visits to Philadelphia, allowing three runs in 15 innings.

The Mets have won 16 of the past 21 meetings with the Phillies, including eight of 11 at Citizens Bank Park following Saturday's 3-2 victory. Lagares connected for his first homer in the season - a go-ahead, two-run shot in the seventh that snapped his 0-for-16 funk.

"He continues to show his skills every day," Collins said of Lagares, a lifetime .344 hitter against Philadelphia.

The Phillies, losers of three of four games, are looking for Chad Billingsley (0-1, 9.00) to show improvement after taking the mound for the first time in over two years due to Tommy John surgery and a procedure to repair a torn flexor tendon.

The right-hander's return didn't go well Tuesday, allowing six runs and eight hits - two homers - in five innings of a 9-0 loss at Atlanta.

"It felt good to be back out there again," Billingsley said. "It was very exciting. I just want to go back out there every fifth day and compete."

He's 2-0 with a 1.77 ERA in four games - three starts - against the Mets, but hasn't faced them since 2009.

Chase Utley's .109 season average is the lowest qualifying mark in the majors, but he did end an 0-for-19 skid with a pinch-hit single in the ninth.

"Maybe that will get him started," manager Ryne Sandberg said.

The second baseman went 4 for 9 (.444) versus Colon last year.

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