Francoeur helps Mets overcome five-run deficit
Maybe the Mets weren't kidding with that "We Believe" slogan for 2010.
For too long, those catchphrases had boomeranged to bite the franchise, a ready-made punch line for a joke that had yet to be told. But now it's the Mets smiling, and after Sunday's 7-6 comeback victory, which completed a three-game sweep of the Florida Marlins at Citi Field, they again proved that this year's rallying cry is more than just an empty promise.
Down 5-0 and 6-3, the Mets got a tying three-run homer from the surging Jeff Francoeur in the seventh inning. In the eighth, Jason Bay teamed with Angel Pagan on a hit-and-run that put runners at first and third for Ike Davis, whose double-play grounder drove in the tiebreaking run. Pedro Feliciano whiffed Chris Coghlan to strand the go-ahead run at second in the eighth and Francisco Rodriguez struck out Cody Ross in the ninth with Jorge Cantu at second for his 12th save.
With the series already clinched and Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco shutting them out for five innings, the Mets could have mailed it in. During the course of a 162-game season, it happens. But the fact that it didn't, especially with another rough outing from Hisanori Takahashi, was a source of pride for the Mets afterward.
"This was one of those games that tests your character and tests what you're about," Rod Barajas said. "The way we responded - that was an awesome win. Being down that far, I'm sure a lot of people were thinking 2-1 going into the homestand isn't that bad. But we didn't want to give up."
That often seems to be the case at Citi Field, where the Mets improved to 22-9, the No. 1 home victory total in the majors. It was their eighth comeback victory of the season and the second time they have rallied to win from a five-run deficit (the Mets fought back from 6-1 to beat the Nationals, 8-6, on May 11).
They have won eight straight at Citi Field, dating to May 22, and are one win short of tying their season-best streak at home. The last time the Mets had a three-game sweep of the Marlins in Flushing was 2000.
"We knew we weren't going to go down without some sort of fight," David Wright said, "and we knew we were going to make a push. We just didn't know how big that push was going to be. And fortunately, we were able to get the big three-run home run and come right back with a manufactured run."
But it was the Marlins who struck first with the long ball, taking Takahashi deep twice in building a 5-0 lead. Dan Uggla creamed an 0-and-2 slider for a leadoff homer in the fourth inning. In the sixth, after Cantu's RBI single, Ross drilled another 0-and-2 pitch, a 67-mph curveball, for a three-run homer.
That finished Takahashi, who allowed five runs in 5 1/3 innings and has been tagged for 11 runs in 91/3 innings in his last two starts.
After the Mets loaded the bases in the sixth, Chris Carter provided a pinch-hit RBI single and Pagan drove in two more runs with a two-out single.
Then Francoeur provided a jolt of adrenaline with a long home run off reliever Tim Wood in the seventh. "I know this is a big ballpark," Francoeur said. "But I knew I got that one."
Getting a big chunk back in one swing helped, and the Mets had to get a bit more creative in the eighth. After a leadoff walk to Pagan, Bay pulled a 3-and-2 pitch through the left side of the infield as Pagan hustled for third.
"It wasn't a line drive, a scud missile," Bay said. "But one of those things where you battle, put the ball in play, finds a hole and stuff happens.
"That was probably the most gratifying at-bat I've had in a week. The best six-hopper I've had, so I'll take it."
And with Florida's infield inexplicably playing back, Davis finished the job with a grounder that the Marlins converted into a double play and the Mets turned into the winning run.
"It doesn't matter how many runs we were behind," Pagan said. "You've got to keep fighting. We wanted to finish strong."