Luis Castillo is a forgotten man. He's been relegated to mentoring his replacement, Ruben Tejada, and coming on late in games to play second after the light-hitting Tejada is lifted for a pinch hitter.
That was the case again last night, but Castillo made sure it was a nice little memory instead of another forgettable appearance.
Castillo flared a single to right with two outs in the ninth inning to score Ike Davis with the winning run, a 6-5 Mets win over the Marlins that looked like it was headed for another disappointment.
R.A. Dickey had a decent night going into the seventh with a 4-2 lead. But, similar to his last outing in Houston, Dickey served up a home run late to turn the tide of the game; last night, Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez launched a knuckleball into the leftfield seats for a three-run homer and a 5-4 deficit.
"Just like last game, one swing changes the culture of what's going on," said Dickey, who allowed a season-high 10 hits but tied a season high with eight strikeouts. "I'm just glad it worked out."
Before Castillo's hero moment, Angel Pagan and Carlos Beltran combined to bring the Mets even. Pagan, along with Dickey the two biggest surprises of the season according to Manuel, had four hits and three runs scored last night, but it was his hustle in the eighth that drew the most praise.
Pagan turned a two-out ground ball to center into a double with some speed and quick thinking. With the Marlins' outfield playing deep, Pagan turned on the jets and never stopped until he was sliding into second.
Beltran followed with a sharp single to right and the game was tied.
"Big, huge play for us," Manuel said. "That's someone taking advantage of the ballpark, someone who's familiar with the ballpark."
Hisanori Takahashi (8-6) worked a scoreless ninth and the Mets' winning rally slowly materialized.
Jeff Francoeur, who got a rare start against a righthander (Marlins ace Josh Johnson, who looked very human in five rough innings) and produced two RBIs on a pair of sacrifice flies, worked a nine-pitch at-bat next, but ended it with a deep flyout to center.
Mike Hessman struck out as a pinch hitter in the No. 8 hole that belonged to Tejada to start the night but became the pitcher's spot in the eighth when Bobby Parnell came on and Castillo trotted out for his mop-up detail.
"It's hard. It's hard," Castillo said of his days as a bench player. "Fourteen years in the big leagues, and the first time I don't play every day."
It wasn't much of a knock, either, but he pushed the ball just far enough over Dan Uggla's head at second, and rightfielder Mike Stanton's throw went way up the third-base line to allow the sluggish Davis to score.
"I feel good . . . good for the team, and good for me," Castillo said after his 16th RBI of the season and just his second since May 30. "It's been a hard situation here. I just try to do the best I can."
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