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Hard work on day off works for Mets' Davis

Mets' Ike Davis is greeted with high fives

Mets' Ike Davis is greeted with high fives in the dugout after he hit a three-run home run in the third inning. (July 29, 2010) Credit: Kathy Kmonicek

Ike Davis used his partial day of rest Wednesday to get back to work.

Mired in a 5-for-34 slump since July 19 and batting .218 in July entering Wednesday, the first baseman caught a breather. But Jerry Manuel didn't tell him how to spend it.

"I swung probably 100 times [in the cage], just going in there every other inning, taking 10 or 15, seeing if I can repeat my swing and getting confident," Davis said. "If you just hit, you get tremendous confidence 'cause you're crushing balls off our BP guy. And so you go up there like, 'Oh, I'll hit anything.' "

The confidence boost paid off. Davis pinch hit a two-run single in the eighth inning that tied the score Wednesday, and just over 12 hours later, he crushed a three-run shot to centerfield in the Mets' 4-0 win over the Cardinals Thursday afternoon.

Davis launched a first-pitch, 83-mph changeup from St. Louis starter Blake Hawksworth just to the right of the centerfield black to give the Mets a 3-0 lead in the third inning.

The homer, his 15th of the season, put him second among rookies entering last night's games - he trailed the Chicago Cubs' Tyler Colvin by one - and fifth in franchise history for most home runs in a rookie season. Entering last night, Davis' 52 RBIs were tops among all rookies in the majors, too.

Color him unimpressed.

"I'm hitting .250," he said. "That's not that good."

Actually, he's hitting .252 - sixth among qualifying rookies - and working to improve.

"I like to do it," Davis said of the extra in-game work, " 'cause the next day, it doesn't really matter how tired you are, I just felt comfortable in the box. That's the biggest goal. You can have the same swing; if you don't have the confidence, you're not going to do well. But if you have confidence, you will."

That confidence paid off in key spots this week.

With the bases loaded, two outs and the Mets down 7-5 Wednesday, Davis' two-run single to rightfield tied the score.

The Mets ultimately lost, 8-7, in a 13-inning game that ended just after midnight, leaving only 12 hours before yesterday's contest.

But after Jose Reyes doubled to lead off the third inning and advanced to third on Angel Pagan's bunt single, Davis came up with one out.

"I was kind of set in the middle of fastball/changeup, just 'cause all I needed to do there was hit a fly ball and get a run in," he said.

And what he provided was two runs better than that.

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