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As he often does, Bartolo Colon gives Mets what they need

Bartolo Colon #40 of the New York Mets

Bartolo Colon #40 of the New York Mets pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the first inning at AT&T Park on August 20, 2016 in San Francisco, California. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Thearon W. Henderson

SAN FRANCISCO — The fan in the dugout box to the first-base side of home plate, the one who unbuttoned his Mets jersey to display a stomach supposedly the equal of Bartolo Colon’s? The pitcher never noticed.

He was focused on something more important.

“I think the bullpen needed a starter to go six innings,” Colon said. “They were a little bit tired. This helps them.”

Big time. It also helped the Mets.

Colon gave up nine hits but allowed only two runs in 6 1⁄3 innings Saturday in a 9-5 victory over the Giants that ended the Mets’ losing streak at three games.

Someone pointed out to manager Terry Collins that Colon, in his 18th season in the majors, often comes through when the Mets are struggling. Collins shook his head in agreement, then added supporting comments.

“A guy like him, he knows about the bullpen, that it’s tired, that we’re short a guy, that he had to pitch deep into the game,’’ he said. “To have that kind of concentration, really squeezing yourself, well, we needed that.”

Colon is 43. Does that seem old? Well, the last couple of days at AT&T Park, singer Tony Bennett, most famous for “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” celebrated his 90th birthday — accompanied by 85-year-old Willie Mays.

Colon defies the years, and the opposition. “He’s amazing for his age,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He gets so much movement on his fastball. He’s a tough pitcher to face. He competes so well. He’s a veteran and knows what he’s doing out there.

“We had a couple of hits and a couple of good at-bats. He’s not one to cave in. He makes pitches when he has to.”

Colon had to make a few in the bottom of the fifth. The Giants had scored a run, trimming the Mets’ lead to 3-2, and had runners on first and second with Buster Posey coming to the plate. No problem. Colon got Posey to ground out.

“I think everything worked out well,” he said through interpreter Melissa Rodriguez. “I was throwing a lot of sinkers. The ball here moves a lot for me.”

It’s been cool and windy the last two weeks in the Bay Area, helpful for pitchers, especially in a ballpark with deep power alleys.

Colon is 11-7 with a 3.36 ERA. As usual, he kept the ball around the plate, walking one and striking out five.

“To be able to come in and help,” Colon said, “that means something.”

To him and to the Mets, it means getting back on the winning side.

New York Sports