NEW YORK (AP) - Hours after learning that All-Star starter Matt Harvey has a torn elbow ligament, New York Mets manager Terry Collins didn't care who Zack Wheeler was about to face.
The potential ace of the rotation was done for the night.
``We said before the game that 105 was the limit,' Collins said of Wheeler's pitch count. ``Obviously, after what happened earlier today we're sticking to it.'
Wheeler was lifted with a runner on second and two outs in the seventh with Phillies lefty Cliff Lee ready to bat. Lee ended up pitching eight innings and leading Philadelphia to a 2-1 victory over New York on Monday night.
Wheeler (6-3) was outstanding in his 13th big league start, giving up a two-run triple to Cody Asche among five hits. New York lost for just the second time in his last 10 outings.
``I understand but I really want to be out there,' Wheeler said of being lifted in the seventh. ``It's definitely going to be a while before any of us get back up there in pitch count. It's not their fault, but it's just human when your best pitcher goes down.'
The Mets were stunned to learn Harvey has a torn ulnar collateral ligament. The right-hander felt more discomfort in his forearm than usual Saturday during his start against Detroit. He was sent to the Hospital for Special Surgery on Monday for an exam, which included an MRI.
A full prognosis won't be made until swelling in the elbow goes down in about two weeks.
``It was the last thing I was expecting when I went this morning,' Harvey said Monday. ``I am going to do everything I can to avoid surgery.'
Harvey admitted he was tired against the Tigers, the 26th start of his first full season in the major leagues. Collins said he noticed Harvey's pitches weren't as crisp, a sign of fatigue.
``Nothing is shooting in my elbow at all. That's not the issue,' Harvey said. ``When I heard the news, I was pretty shocked. I'm still very optimistic.'
General manager Sandy Alderson said during a downcast news conference the injury wasn't caused by one incident, but is ``progressive,' so even if the 24-year-old Harvey can avoid surgery now it might be necessary in the future. Recovery time for Tommy John surgery is about a year.
The No. 7 pick in the 2010 draft, Harvey is 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA. He has an NL-leading 191 strikeouts in 178 1-3 innings and was a top candidate for the Cy Young Award.
``It put everybody down,' catcher Travis d'Arnaud said. ``When we heard the news, everybody was just speechless. I just feel terrible, man.'
The Mets were working on limiting Harvey's innings to a little more than 200 this season. Alderson said there is no real formula for managing the careers of young pitchers.
``These innings limits are not a guarantee of anything. They're certainly not based on any science,' Alderson said. ``This is a kind of progressive injury that isn't a function of ... we don't believe in this case a specific incident or quote overuse. It's an anatomical fact that these things happen.'
The blow is particularly tough for an organization that has not been to the playoffs since 2006, and hasn't had a winning season in its new ballpark that opened in 2009.
But Harvey was the first of several top young pitchers who were supposed to help lead New York back to the postseason, and Mets captain David Wright cited the talent in the minor leagues as one of the reasons he signed a big contract to remain in New York last winter.
Wright sat next to Harvey in the dugout to watch the first couple of innings of fellow first-round pick Wheeler's outing.
Wheeler didn't disappoint, but the 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner Lee was a bit better.
Lee (11-3) gave a bullpen taxed by an 18-inning loss Saturday a much-needed rest. He allowed a run and five hits to win for the first time in seven starts since July 5. He also made several nice plays in the field.
Asche hit his first major league triple - with two outs in the fourth - as the Phillies improved to 7-4 under new manager Ryne Sandberg and won for the second time in 15 road games.
The Phillies avoided falling again behind the Mets, who lost their fifth straight and dropped into fourth place in the NL East.
Jonathan Papelbon was perfect in the ninth for his 22nd save in 28 opportunities.
Until the eighth, Lee didn't face trouble after the Mets got a gift in the second inning when they took a 1-0 lead.
Marlon Byrd led off the second with a routine fly to right-center. In what appeared to be a moment of indecision between center fielder Roger Bernadina and right fielder John Mayberry Jr., the ball fell in between the two for a double. Byrd scored on Andrew Brown's single.
With two outs in the eighth, Lee struck out Juan Lagares with runners on first and second after falling behind 2-0 in the count- the Mets' only inning besides the second in which they had more than one baserunner.
``I didn't feel as good as it turned out, to be honest with you,' Lee said. ``I felt like I had to battle and was able to continue to get outs.'
NOTES: Collins said RHP Carlos Torres will start Thursday in place of Harvey. Torres got two outs Monday. ... The Phillies placed OF Casper Wells on the 15-day DL because of vision problems. Pete Orr was called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. ... Mets 1B Josh Satin's streak of reaching base in all 29 games as a starter ended.
The Associated Press News Service
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