CLEVELAND — Terry Collins still was red in the face. And he spoke as if every word he uttered took a toll.
For the second game in a row, the Mets had won, quieting talk of a team that has struggled to meet expectations.
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But for the manager, a 6-5 victory over the Indians on Friday night came only after more frayed nerves and spikes in blood pressure. It wasn’t perfect, nor was it easy.
Collins reshuffled a slumping lineup that responded by hitting a season-high four home runs. But the Mets nearly coughed up a four-run lead in the ninth and almost paid dearly for a pair of baserunners getting thrown out at home.
“We won the game,” Collins said, a clenched fist in a gray uniform after the Mets made victory look so painfully difficult.
Carlos Santana hit a two-run homer off setup man Addison Reed with two outs in the ninth, forcing Collins to summon closer Jeurys Familia.
Collins drew criticism after a 2-1 victory over the Marlins on Wednesday in which he managed an April game as if he were in a pennant race in September. That meant asking Familia to pitch in his third straight game and record five outs.
Two days later, pitching for the sixth time in nine games, Familia allowed a hit to Yan Gomes, threw a wild pitch and surrendered an RBI single to Marlon Byrd. But after a walk to Juan Uribe put the tying run in scoring position, Familia got Jose Ramirez to fly out to end it.
“Last year, I threw a lot of games, too,” Familia said, brushing off what has been a brutal workload. “The bullpen, you never know when you’re going to pitch.”
The Mets took a 6-1 lead with a five-run fifth inning, powered by a leadoff homer by Alejandro De Aza, who started for only the second time this season, and two-out, two-run shots by Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker.
Michael Conforto homered in his first at-bat in his first start as the No. 3 hitter. He had a two-out infield single to set up the final four runs in the fifth. “We’ve got a little momentum,” Conforto said. “The hits are starting to fall in there.”
The Mets had averaged only 2.5 runs per game in their first eight games and ranked at or near the bottom in several major offensive categories. On Friday night, they had a season-high 14 hits and hit more homers in one game (four) than they had in their previous eight (two).
Perhaps Collins has found an answer in his new lineup. “We’ll try it another day, I know that,” he said.
Bartolo Colon (1-1) earned his 219th career victory. It tied him with Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez for the second most among pitchers born in the Dominican Republic, trailing only the great Juan Marichal (243).
Colon, 42, allowed two runs and eight hits in 5 1⁄3 innings against the Indians, the club that gave him his first shot in the major leagues.
Mets admit “mistake.” The Mets responded to the controversy that erupted after it was revealed that they auctioned off the jersey worn by Mike Piazza when he homered in the first game after Sept. 11. “We admit that we made a mistake, and have instituted a new process with internal controls to prevent something like this from happening again,” the club said in a statement.