Wilmer Flores delivers again to help Zack Wheeler get tidy win

Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler delivers against the Arizona Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler delivers against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the second inning. (Aug. 10, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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PHOENIX - So many questions linger over Mets rookie Wilmer Flores.

Scouts expect his body to grow too big for him to hold down a regular job at second base. And he will be blocked by the player he's filling in for at third, injured David Wright.

Yet there have been few questions about Flores' raw ability at the plate, which he flashed Saturday night in leading the Mets to a 4-1 victory over the Diamondbacks.

Flores knocked in three runs, including a clutch two-run single with the bases loaded in the eighth inning.

"We know his ceiling is high offensively," manager Terry Collins said. "You feel comfortable when he's up there because you think he's going to put the bat on the ball."

The clutch hit pushed the Mets' lead to three runs and gave Flores eight RBIs in his first five major-league games.

"I was looking for a fastball and I got it," said Flores, who missed an RBI double by mere feet during his previous at-bat.

Mets righthander Zack Wheeler did not walk a batter for the first time in his 10 big-league starts, allowing one run in 61/3 innings and showing improved command of his fastball.

Lefty relievers Scott Rice and Pedro Feliciano bailed the Mets out of jams before LaTroy Hawkins picked up his third save in place of injured closer Bobby Parnell.

"Everyone did their job today," Rice said. "It was an awesome win."

Flores helped the Mets get started in the fourth as they took a 2-0 lead. Rookie Juan Lagares slammed his third homer, a solo shot to right, before Ike Davis doubled off the fence in center. With two outs, Flores delivered a run-scoring single to right, giving him an RBI in four straight games.

From there, Wheeler (5-2) made the run support stand up.

In his last start, the 23-year-old left the impression that he was holding back, a concession made in hopes of gaining more command. But against the Diamondbacks, Wheeler came out firing, and he didn't let up. His final pitch registered at 96 mph, and for the most part, he displayed sharp command of his arsenal.

"It's flowing right now," Wheeler said of his mechanics. "It feels good, and it allows me to throw downhill."

In the seventh, Diamondbacks cleanup hitter Aaron Hill jumped on Wheeler's hanging curveball for his sixth homer of the season, cutting the Mets' lead to 2-1.

After Cody Ross flied out, Wil Nieves lined Wheeler's 106th and last pitch of the night for a single to leftfield.

Wheeler watched Rice load the bases by allowing a single and a walk, but he got Adam Eaton to hit into a forceout to end the threat.

Feliciano followed suit in the eighth. Reliever Carlos Torres made a mess of the inning, loading the bases after two were out on a pair of hits and a walk. But Feliciano then froze lefthanded-hitting Gerardo Parra with a 74-mph slider, ending the threat.

Flores gave the Mets' bullpen some leeway in the eighth against reliever David Hernandez. With two outs, Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson ordered an intentional walk to Davis -- who was 2-for-2 to raise his average to .203 -- to load the bases and put the onus on Flores to deliver.

He responded by pulling a single through the hole between third and short, allowing Lagares and Eric Young Jr. to score critical insurance runs.

"I've been driving in runs, and that's what you want," Flores said. "Basically, you just want to get a good pitch and hit the ball hard anywhere."

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