The Mets came into tonight's game winners of their last three overall and the first two games of this four-game series with the Dodgers. They finished the night one game closer to Francisco Rodriguez' $17.5 million option vesting for 2012, but they also extended their winning streak to four games and moved three games over .500 for the first time since 23 July 2010.
The two teams traded zeros for the first third of the game before the Mets broke through in the fourth inning. Carlos Beltran led off with an indifferent double to right and moved to third on Daniel Murphy's ground out to first baseman James Loney. Jason Bay then tapped out harmlessly to the pitcher, and with two outs and the Mets needing a clutch hit, Lucas Duda abided, smacking a run-scoring double to right to score Beltran with the game's first run.
The lead was short-lived, however, as the Dodgers clawed back with a run of their own in the bottom of the fourth. Baseball player Jamey Caroll reached on a drag bunt down the first-base line but was forced out at second on the next play when Andre Ethier hit a fielder's-choice grounder to Duda at first. Matt Kemp's single chased Ethier to third and Juan Uribe's ground out to second brought Ethier home with the tying run.
The fifth frame was uneventful, but the Mets busted out the three-run whooping stick in the top of the sixth. Beltran kicked things off with his league-leading 26th double of the year. Murphy then flied out to left, but an errant throw by Eugenio Velez allowed Beltran to take third. Bay grounded out to second, but with Duda batting and two outs on the board, Kuroda unleashed a wild pitch which dribbled far enough to the right of catcher A.J. Ellis for Beltran to coast home with the go-ahead run.
Duda and Josh Thole stroked back-to-back singles with two outs to set things up for offensive sinkhole Ruben Tejada to naturally float a double into the right-center-field gap to score both baserunners and give the Mets a seemingly insurmountable 4-1 lead. That two-bagger notwithstanding, coming into the night Ruben Tejada had been hitting .186/.275/.186 since 14 June. That's not a misprint.
Not content to ease into the victory, Jon Niese, who struck out six and walked just one on the night, allowed the Dodgers to dink themselves back into the game on a couple of singles, a walk, an apparently botched non-double-play call, and a sacrifice fly. In the blink of an eye, the Mets' 4-1 lead had been shaved to the perilously thin 4-3 margin they would carry into the ninth.
In the top of the ninth, Willie Harris, who was pinch-hitting for the recently dominant Bobby Parnell, rocketed a double to deep right-center with one out. Angel Pagan lined out for the second out of the inning, but Justin Turner plated Harris on a single to right to give the Mets a bit more cushion for the pushin'.
The bottom of the ninth was relatively uneventful, as Rodriguez worked around a one-out single to Uribe to pick up his 22nd "save" and his 33rd game finished.
The series wraps up Thursday night at 10:10pm EDT when Dillon Gee takes on Clayton Kershaw as the Mets go for the sweep.
Big winners: Carlos Beltran, +25.7% WPA, Bobby Parnell, +13.3% WPA
Big losers: Jason Bay, -21.5% WPA, Daniel Murphy, -9.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Tejada two-run double in sixth, +20.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Carroll single in sixth, -11.5% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +29.1% WPA
Total batter WPA: +20.9% WPA
Nice job by NetsMets4Life; his effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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