Just when he was getting comfortable as a reliever, Daisuke Matsuzaka stepped into the breach and served as the ultimate stopper for the Mets on the mound and even at the plate. Matsuzaka started and pitched six innings and delivered a run-scoring single in a 4-2 win over Arizona to avoid a series sweep in the second game of a doubleheader Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.
New Mets closer Jenrry Mejia got the save, making his second appearance of the day after taking the loss in the opener thanks to a fielding error on what would have been the third out in the ninth inning of a tie game. The Mets suffered a 2-1 loss in the first game when they stranded 10 runners on base, hit into five double plays and let the winning run score on an error. The Mets' win in the second game was only their third in the past 11 games.
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Matsuzaka (2-0) has made a successful transition from the starting rotation to the bullpen this season. He pitched a scoreless inning in Thursday night's win over the Dodgers and had allowed just one earned run over his previous 102/3 innings of relief. But after Friday's rainout, Matsuzaka told manager Terry Collins he was available to start Sunday's nightcap and could give him 100 pitches.
After two strikeouts in a seamless first inning, Matsuzaka gave up a leadoff single to Aaron Hill in the second inning. Martin Prado followed with a scorcher down the first base line that went over the bag in fair territory, curved into foul territory and bounced sideways off the wall into short rightfield. Hill came around to score, and Prado wound up with a triple and scored on a groundout to give the Diamondbacks a 2-0 lead.
After Chris Young and Lucas Duda struggled badly at the plate in the first game, Collins replaced them with Bobby Abreu in right and Eric Campbell at first base in the second. Campbell singled in his first at-bat and then was forced out by Wilmer Flores, who moved to second on a single by catcher Anthony Recker.
It was left to Matsuzaka to show the Mets how to hit with men on base and two outs. He blooped a single into left scoring Flores to cut the deficit to 2-1. The Mets tied the game in the fifth when Curtis Granderson walked and scored from first on a double by Abreu into the leftfield corner.
Matsuzaka delivered on his promise to Collins, leaving the game after six innings and 98 pitches having allowed two runs on three hits while striking out six and walking one. In the bottom of the sixth, the Mets put Matsuzaka in position for the win even as they squandered a chance for a big inning.
Recker led off with a double, his third hit on a day when he totaled a career-high four, and he came around to score the go-ahead run on a single by Reuben Tejada, who was pinch-hitting for Matsuzaka. After Juan Lagares fouled out, Daniel Murphy singled to move Tejada to second. David Wright then singled to extend his hitting streak to nine games, but Tejada was gunned down at the plate by Arizona leftfielder Ender Inciarte. A walk to Granderson loaded the bases, but Abreu popped out to shortstop to end the threat.
Carlos Torres relieved and pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the Mets, and Josh Edgin and Jeurys Familia combined for a scoreless eighth. The Mets tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Young, who replaced Abreu in the outfield, walked, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Juan Lagares and scored on a single by Daniel Murphy for a 4-2 lead.