One Carlos provided as much offense as Hernandez would need, but both Carloses chipped in with homers. Carlos Delgado hit his 29th home run of the season, a solo shot in the second, while Carlos Beltran hit his 35th of the year, a bases-empty dinger in the sixth. It is the ninth time this season they have both homered in the same game.
"When the big boys come through for you, it's going to be nice," said Randolph.
And Hernandez, who scattered five hits through the six innings, made it as nice for the rest of the team, shutting down the Rockies' offense to give the Mets their fourth win in a row. El Duque struck out eight and walked one as the right-hander bounced back from his last outing, in which he allowed 10 hits and 11 runs on Aug. 15 in the Mets' 11-4 loss to the Phillies.
Hernandez inspired his teammates with his plate appearances as well.
El Duque reached base in the third inning with a sharp single to left and, in the fifth, he forced Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba into making a bad throw on his bunt attempt. Hernandez went to second on the errant throw and then surprised everyone -- including Rockies starter Jason Jennings -- by stealing third base. Hernandez's first career stolen base came rather easily as Torrealba was fooled as well, not even attempting a throw down to third. While the Mets were unable to score on either Hernandez baserunning adventure, it gave his teammates something to discuss.
"Well, he doesn't get paid to do that," chuckled Delgado. "We're paying him to do the other thing."
The other thing is pitch, which Hernandez did crisply.
"He used his offspeed stuff very effectively today," said Randolph. "He competes and he's the type of guy who can easily bounce back from a bad outing like he had. We trust him to be able to do that, and he's shown he can."
The second straight sweep at home came after a night on which the Mets celebrated the gritty and determined team of 1986. And, while both members of both past and present teams hesitate to make comparisons, one can't help to be enthused by the way in which the Mets responded with a six-run rally in the sixth inning in Saturday's 7-4 win and the way the team peformed in the pitchers' duel on Sunday.
"Listen, we're not going to relax just because we have a big lead," said Delgado, who went 1-for-4 in the contest and is now batting .400 during the homestand. "We don't want to get ahead of ourselves. We have a lot to play for, and we are going to keep playing hard every day."
The Mets sent an early sign to the Rockies that the team was going to play hard, literally. Jennings, who ranked sixth in the National League in ERA heading into Sunday, was drilled in the right leg on a liner from Jose Reyes to start the game. Reyes was thrown out by Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins, and Jennings recovered to retire the side on a flyout by Lastings Milledge and a strikeout by Beltran.
"It caught me flush," said Jennings, who went six innings and allowed four hits, striking out five and walking two. "I definitely felt it, but it's not like it affected me at all."
Delgado, though, made sure not to give Jennings any relief. Delgado touched Jennings for a home run to lead off the second inning. Delgado, looking fastball, turned on a fat one across the plate on a 1-0 pitch, sending it 440 feet over the center-field wall. The homer by the Mets first baseman was his 29th of the season and the 398th of his career, which moves him into a tie for 44th place with Dale Murphy on the all-time list.
Jennings escaped damage in the second after El Duque reached on his hit with one out. The 28-year-old right-hander struck out Reyes, but Milledge singled. Hernandez hustled to third but was stranded there when Beltran flied out to right field.
"He pitched well, with a good slider and good cutter inside," said Beltran.
But, after going without a run for three innings, Beltran came through with a solo homer of his own as the leadoff hitter in the sixth inning. Beltran sat on a 0-1 fastball and drilled a liner that sizzled across the sky and barely cleared the wall in right-center. It was good enough for a 2-0 lead, and plenty for Hernandez and the bullpen.
Hernandez was relieved in the seventh inning after throwing 117 pitches, 72 for strikes. Chad Bradford entered the seventh and retired the side on two flyouts and a grounder. Aaron Heilman, who has somewhat assumed the role of the injured Duaner Sanchez, entered in the eighth and zipped through with three strikeouts.
Billy Wagner came in to close out the game with a groundout, strikeout and groundout to record his 31st save of the season. The save was Wagner's 315th of his career as well, moving the left-hander into 14th place on the all-time save list.
"This was probably one of our better games we've played all season long," Wagner said. "El Duque went by the script, and those games are fun to play."
So, as poorly as the day began, the Mets, like the '86 version, used some grit and determination to prove they can overcome adversity.