PHOENIX -- The most positive thing about the Mets' just-ended seven-game road trip is the way it ended. "We won going home," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "We won't have a lousy flight home." Of course, nothing comes easily for the Mets these days, and that included Wednesday's 6-4 victory over the D-backs at Chase Field, which came down to the last pitch with the tying run at the plate represented by Miguel Montero. Francisco Rodriguez struck him out for his 25th save.
Looking for silver linings? Cory Sullivan, playing his second successive game as the leadoff hitter and center fielder, had a couple of triples and an RBI, giving him five hits in the two games. "I thought Sullivan played very well," Manuel said. "And even though Frankie gave up a run in the ninth, he's on his way back, too." The Mets got just enough pitching from starter Oliver Perez, just enough hitting with David Wright and Gary Sheffield back in the middle of the lineup, and just enough good baseball fortune. The Mets threw out two D-backs runners at the plate on infield grounders with catcher Omir Santos making two stellar plays blocking the charging baserunners. D-backs manager A.J. Hinch disputed the third-inning play, contesting to no avail that Ryan Roberts beat the throw. "That was a tough one because I could see Roberts hit Santos on the shin guard or the foot," said Hinch, who was later tossed from the game along with loser Jon Rauch (2-1) for arguing ball-strike calls. "Whether or not his foot came down back on the plate is the judgment." And Santos held tight to the ball in the seventh after a fine scoop toss with the glove by a charging Pedro Feliciano, as Mark Reynolds put his shoulder down and flattened the catcher. "That was very, very, very big," Manuel said. Just as big was the fact that the Mets capitalized on a passed ball and two Jon Garland wild pitches to score three times during the sixth inning. Wright came home with another run on a wild pitch in the ninth. "That's what you have to do, take advantage of those situations," Wright said. "That's what other teams do to us -- take advantage of our mistakes. I'm glad we were able to do that to them today." And when the D-backs came back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the score at 3, the Mets responded with two runs in the eighth and another in the ninth. "That was impressive," Manuel said. "For the most part, all year we've shown fight. We came here the first night and played a very poor game, but we continued to fight back. We could've very easily folded up the tents [in the late innings on Wednesday], gotten on the plane and gone home. Obviously it was a good win for us, a much-needed win for us."
The Mets ended their 2-5 trip through San Diego and Phoenix with only their fourth win in the past 14 games. They return home Friday night to face the Giants in the first of a four-game series at Citi Field.
Perez, although a bit rocky, made his second decent start of the road trip, holding the D-backs to a run on six hits before he was lifted with one out and nobody on in the sixth after tossing 111 pitches. He walked six (one intentionally) and struck out seven.
Last Friday night against the Padres in San Diego, Perez allowed only two hits and a run before he was lifted in the seventh. The Mets lost that game when Rodriguez gave up Everth Cabrera's walk-off grand slam.
It wasn't Perez's finest hour on Wednesday, but unlike Mike Pelfrey and Livan Hernandez in losses on Monday and Tuesday nights, the left-hander kept the D-backs at bay long enough for the Mets offensively to take advantage of those Arizona mistakes.
"I didn't have my stuff today," said Perez, who didn't get the win in the game -- Feliciano (5-4) did. "I made a lot of pitches, but I don't ever give up. I try to compete and just keep my team in the game because, as you see, they gave us opportunities to score runs."
Sheffield, in his first start of the trip after nursing a sore right hamstring, had two singles and was hit by a pitch. Wright, who was given the night off on Tuesday save for a ninth-inning pinch-hit appearance, responded to the breather by adding three more singles.
"Obviously, when you have Sheff right and healthy we can score some runs," Wright said. "I'm glad we were able to do that today. Hopefully we'll be able to provide some protection [in the lineup] for one another as we move forward."
|"I didn't have my stuff today. I made a lot of pitches, but I don't ever give up. I try to compete and just keep my team in the game because, as you see, they gave us opportunities to score runs."|
|-- Oliver Perez|
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.