ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Throughout his fresh start with the Mets, Jose Valverde has insisted that the past is the past. Two years later, he can't do anything about the epic postseason meltdown that sent his career careening off course. So he must focus only on the moment.
But in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday night, Valverde found himself powerless when his past encroached on his present.
The Mets narrowly avoided their second straight walk-off loss to the Angels, earning a 7-6 win in the 13th inning after blowing a three-run lead in the ninth.
Backup catcher Anthony Recker capped a big night for the Mets, drilling a solo shot off Matt Shoemaker in the 13th after contributing a two-out, two-run single in the seventh.
But the go-ahead homer came only after Valverde was forced to relive one of the worst episodes of his career.
Two seasons ago, while closing for the Tigers, Valverde surrendered a tying two-out, two-run homer to then-Yankees designated hitter Raul Ibañez, capping a four-run ninth inning in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. The Tigers won the game in the 12th (minutes after Derek Jeter broke his ankle) and swept the series, but the blown save was part of a postseason slide that ultimately drove Valverde out of Detroit.
On Saturday night against the Angels, Valverde again found himself at the mercy of Ibañez, who bashed a tying three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth after Valverde retired the first two batters of the inning.
"It's weird," said Valverde, who insisted he didn't give the matchup a second thought. "But you're the closer, you'll [deal] with this a lot of times, blown saves. You have to take it out, throw it away and figure it out for the next day."
The Mets showed a measure of resilience one night after falling in 11 innings.
They drew strength from a pair of backups. Recker put the Mets ahead for the first time at 4-3 with a two-run single in the seventh before Omar Quintanilla made it 6-3 in the ninth with a two-run single of his own.
After Recker put the Mets ahead for a second time, John Lannan pitched his second scoreless inning to finish off the Angels in a 4-hour, 29-minute game.
"Any time you lose a tough one like we did last night, coming back the next day and winning one in this fashion is a pretty big deal," Recker said.
With that, the Mets will send Bartolo Colon to the mound Sunday against C.J. Wilson with a chance to take two of three from the Angels before wrapping up their road trip with a three-game set against the Diamondbacks starting Monday.
Mets lefty Jonathon Niese allowed three runs in 71/3 innings, an encouraging sign in his second start since coming off the disabled list. Lucas Duda homered and later came through with a critical hit to extend the Mets' seventh-inning rally.
Valverde entered in the ninth with a 6-3 advantage and quickly retired Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick. But David Freese singled up the middle and Erick Aybar walked. Up came Ibañez, who promptly recreated history on a 1-and-0 pitch.
The moment he heard the crack of the bat, Valverde doubled over, just as he had done on that October night at Yankee Stadium two seasons ago. But the Tigers ultimately prevailed, just as the Mets did, thanks to Recker.
"It's over already," Valverde said after his first blown save with the Mets. "I told you in Atlanta already. Who won? The Mets. It doesn't matter how."
Sign up for Newsday’s Mets Messages for updates directly to your phone via text, free with a Newsday digital subscription. Learn more at newsday.com/metstext.