NEW YORK -- Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard repeated the phrasing of a reporter's question, as if he wasn't sure how to take it.

"Like old times? I guess, yeah, sure, that's how you want to put it," Howard said after his RBI single in the top of the ninth inning Saturday night capped a throwback effort by Philadelphia's old core and lifted the Phillies to a 5-4 win over the New York Mets at Citi Field.

A few seconds later, Howard decided he liked the wording of the question as a small grin crept across his face.

"Yeah, it felt good," Howard said. "It felt like old times out there."

It certainly did for shortstop Jimmy Rollins, second baseman Chase Utley and Howard, the three longest-tenured Phillies and three of the six players remaining from the 2008 team that won the World Series.

Rollins, Utley and Howard -- the Phillies' two through four hitters -- combined to go 9-of-12 with four runs scored (all by Rollins), a homer, two doubles, and four RBIs. They reached base 11 times in 15 plate appearances.

The rest of the Phillies went a combined 2-for-24.

"It was great to see it tonight with those guys because they've done it before and they're big in that situation," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said of the trio of veterans.

Rollins (3-for-4) singled and scored during the Phillies' two-run first, which included a sacrifice fly by Utley (2-for-3, 2 RBIs). Rollins then gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead with a solo homer in the second.

With one out in the seventh and the Phillies trailing 4-3, Rollins beat out an infield single, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on Utley's double. With the score tied 4-4 in the ninth, Rollins drew a two-out walk, went to third on Utley's single and scored on the fourth hit of the night by Howard.

"We were able to get an early lead and then (the Mets) battled back and it was kind of a nail-biter there for a while," Utley said. "Ryan came up with a big hit with guys on base. And there you have it."

The collective effort of the veterans Saturday night continued a renaissance season for the trio, who helped keep the Phillies afloat in a parity-ridden NL East. Howard has a team-high seven homers, Utley is among the National League's top five batters with a .344 average and Rollins and Utley share the team lead with 20 runs scored.

"If we can get everybody going all at the same time, it'll be a force to be reckoned with," Howard said. "But each night, as long as you've got somebody stepping up, that's going to be the key."

Such performances were more difficult to achieve as the threesome moved towards baseball middle age over the previous two seasons. While Rollins, 35, missed just eight games combined in 2012 and 2013 , Howard, 34, and Utley, 35, battled serious injuries in 2012 and 2013, when they missed 283 out of a possible 648 games.

"That's baseball," Howard said. "Every team goes through injuries, all that kind of stuff. But the past is the past. We try to put all that stuff behind us."

Right-hander Mike Adams worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth to earn the win for the Phillies (17-18), who won their second in a row to move into sole possession of fourth place in the NL East and remain three games behind first-place Atlanta. Right-hander Jonathan Papelbon worked around a two-out walk in the ninth to record his 11th save.

Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick allowed four runs, four hits and two walks while striking out four in 5 1/3 innings.

The reeling Mets (16-19) fell into last place after losing their fifth in a row and for the eighth time in the last nine games. New York stranded seven runners in the final four innings, including four in scoring position.

"It's pretty frustrating because the guys have done a good job of getting on and getting in scoring position," manager Terry Collins said of the Mets, who have left 23 runners on base in the last two games. "We have been unable to push across an added run here and there to change the outcome of a lot of situations and a lot of games."

Third baseman David Wright went 3-for-5 with a homer -- his first since Opening Day -- and three RBIs for the Mets but popped out with a runner at second to end the game. First baseman Eric Campbell delivered a pinch-sacrifice fly in his first major league at-bat and right fielder Curtis Granderson had two singles.

Right-hander Kyle Farnsworth took the loss. Right-hander Dillon Gee tossed six innings for the Mets and allowed three runs, six hits and one walk while striking out one.

NOTES: Drenching pregame rains forced the first pitch to be pushed back 39 minutes to 7:49 p.m. ... The Mets recalled IF Eric Campbell from Triple-A Las Vegas and optioned 1B Josh Satin to the same affiliate. Campbell, who has never played in the majors, was hitting .355 with three homers and 24 RBIs in 33 games for Las Vegas. Satin hit just .107 with 12 strikeouts in 28 at-bats. ... 1B Lucas Duda returned to the lineup for the Mets after missing Friday night's game with a severe case of food poisoning. ... Phillies INF Darin Ruf, who has yet to play in the majors this season because of an oblique injury, was scheduled to play in his third rehab game for Class A Clearwater on Saturday. ... The Phillies' top pitching prospect, right-hander Ken Giles, made his Triple-A debut on Friday and allowed one run in one inning for Lehigh Valley. Giles had a 1.20 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 15 innings during 13 relief appearances at Double-A Reading.