After weeks of grinding, Zack Wheeler took a smooth whirl through Citizens Bank Park on Thursday and reminded the Mets he’s capable of dominating a game.

Marlon Byrd delivered a wake-up call with a solo homer in the seventh inning, but it wasn’t about to tarnish the night for Wheeler or the Mets.

“I can actually smile after a start now,” Wheeler said after the Mets beat the Phillies 4-1 for their third straight victory.
Wheeler (2-5) allowed four hits, struck out nine and didn’t walk a batter over 6 ¹/₃ innings to get his first win since April 14 at Arizona.

The Mets (25-28) are unbeaten since firing hitting coach Dave Hudgens after Monday’s loss to the Pirates. On Friday, they will try to enter uncharted territory for 2014 by winning a fourth straight game.

Byrd’s blast in the seventh ended a scoreless streak of 18 ¹/₃ innings by Mets pitchers. A day earlier, Bartolo Colon pitched 7 ¹/₃ shutout innings in a win over the Pirates.

The first six outs Wheeler got were by strikeout, and he ran his total to eight with one out in the fourth. Before Byrd homered, Wheeler had retired 14 straight batters.

“He came with that reputation of dominating a game and tonight he dominated this game,” manager Terry Collins said. “He’s got to look in the mirror and say, ‘Holy cow, I’m going to do that again.’ ”
Wheeler has struggled to command his slider for much of the season, but said the pitch returned for him Thursday. He was removed at 108 pitches, after throwing 118 in his previous start on Sunday against the Diamondbacks.

“I was moving it all around the place today,” Wheeler said. “I was able to do that with control. It makes it easy for me instead of having to stay out there and battle the whole time.”

Scott Rice, Vic Black and Jenrry Mejia took the Mets to the finish line Thursday by combining for 2 ²/₃ scoreless innings. Mejia struck out the side in the ninth for his fifth save in as many chances this season.