Beltran's blast ends Mets' long night

Beltran's blast ends Mets' long night

NEW YORK -- It was as if a gunshot had gone off somewhere deep in the heart of Shea Stadium, echoing through the old concrete and jolting some few thousand straggling fans awake. Three extra innings had lulled so many to sleep, but then, one crack of Carlos Beltran's bat had changed the complexion of the night, and -- the Mets hope -- the season.

The latter conclusion will have to wait. For now, all thoughts of the future -- of Moises Alou's health, of Mike Pelfrey's consistency, of manager Willie Randolph's job -- can wait. The Mets won a game on Wednesday, parlaying Beltran's two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the 13th inning into a downright necessary 5-3 victory over the Diamondbacks.

They feel good now. They're glad to be here. They're glad to be Mets.

"There's a lot of guys here that when we lost, we didn't sleep at night," Beltran said. "So today, we're going to sleep good."

That Beltran won the game with his homer wasn't too remarkable. He's done it before, and, despite his season-long slump, his bat remains just as powerful as any in Queens. But the fact that the Mets needed him to do it -- that they lost yet another lead that seemed too safe to lose -- made his home run in the 13th all the more significant.

Clinging to a 3-3 tie throughout the extra innings, the Mets traded zeroes with the D-backs, each team putting runners on base, but neither doing much else. Luis Castillo continued that trend in the 13th, reaching on an error, before Beltran approached the plate with two outs. He fouled away two pitches, then shot Edgar Gonzalez's next offering over the wall in right-center -- a liner fighting gravity the whole way.

"I just reacted to it," Beltran said. "I wasn't sure it was going to be gone because it was on a line, but it went out. We're happy because it's a win."

Ah yes, a win. Finally, a win.

"This is what we do for a living," Beltran said. "How are we going to sleep when things are not going good? We think about it. We go home, think about the game, think about how we can get better. I think there are a lot of people here that care about it."

Consider Billy Wagner among them. The most outspoken Met has proven that much during his time in New York, though wanting to win and actually winning are two different things. Wagner couldn't put them in sync on this night, entering the game in relief of Pelfrey and allowing a game-tying homer with two outs in the ninth.

That shot, off the bat of Mark Reynolds, erased one of the finest starts of Pelfrey's career. More vexing, it put the Mets in danger of their sixth straight loss.

"It's hard," Wagner said. "It stinks. It's hard to go out there -- especially with two outs and two strikes -- to go out there and give it up. That hurts."

Distant Wednesday memories included Beltran's two-run single in the fourth inning and Marlon Anderson's run-scoring fielder's choice. Those runs were all the Mets could muster off Diamondbacks starter Brandon Webb, though Webb lasted only five innings and 58 pitches. He took a Carlos Delgado line drive off his hip in the fourth, and pitched only one additional inning.

Had Webb continued, he still would not have been able to match Pelfrey. Entering Wednesday with two strong starts in his back pocket, Pelfrey blanked the Diamondbacks until Wagner allowed his inherited run to score in the ninth. It seemed logical that Pelfrey could have left the game after seven innings, and then, 110 pitches deep, after eight.

But the bottom of the eighth rolled around and Pelfrey stepped up to the on-deck circle, swinging his bat with an accumulated swagger.

He struck out on four pitches. The crowd, eager for him to pitch, roared its approval.

They didn't care about a hit, and neither did Pelfrey. After all, he had already singled in the game, a bouncing grounder up the middle of the infield.

"First time all year," John Maine shouted over to him following the game.

"I had a fielder's choice once," Pelfrey shot back.

He had a win once, too -- two of them in fact, the last coming on April 15. Certainly, he deserved a third on Wednesday, and could have won in each of his previous two outings. No problem, says Pelfrey, though he's the only one that says so. Wagner wanted this one for Pelfrey, as did Beltran and Randolph.

But more than that, they wanted it for the Mets. They all did.

"To tell you the truth, I didn't care how we got it," catcher Brian Schneider said. "Obviously, it's nice to get it this way and it's always fun to walk off on the other team. But it didn't matter how we did it. As long as we got the win tonight, that's all that matters. We obviously needed it."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.