Jeremy Hefner hadn't done a whole lot to ingratiate himself into the Mets' rotation plans, not in his first start anyway.
With Miguel Batista making progress in his rehab from an oblique injury, the Mets plan on taking the wait-and-see approach on Heffner, figuring that might be the best way to go rather than simply outright say Batista would slide back into the rotation upon his return.
Apparently, Hefner isn't ready to lose the grip on his starting spot just yet. He homered for his first career hit and also tossed six solid innings to earn his first major-league win as the Mets beat the Phillies, 6-3, Tuesday nightbefore an announced crowd of 25,487. The game was delayed by rain for 64 minutes before the bottom of the eighth, and Frank Francisco closed out the win in uneventful fashion for his 14th save.
"Obviously, I want to be here," Hefner said. "But whatever Sandy [Alderson] and Terry [Collins] think is best for the team. If I'm better suited in Triple-A, then I understand that. But if I'm here, I'm going give it my all and I'm going to do everything I can to win ball games."
Hefner's solo shot in the fourth gave the Mets a two-run lead, and he became the Mets' first pitcher to go deep since Johan Santana did it on July 6, 2010, against the Reds.
"Now I can say, 'Hey, I've got a home run in the big leagues,' " Heffner said.
Scott Hairston delivered a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the sixth, and David Wright broke out of an 0-for-19 slump with an RBI single in the first. Ike Davis and Mike Baxter each added RBI hits to help the Mets bounce back from Monday's tough loss and put them in position to take the three-game set against their rivals if they can win tonight's rubber game.
Even the new guy, Omar Quintanilla, got into the act after getting called up from Triple-A Buffalo. Starting at shortstop after the Mets announced that Justin Turner was headed for the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right ankle, Quintanilla was a nice sparkplug offensively, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two runs scored.
"I just tried to go out there and relax and just keep doing what I had been doing in Buffalo," he said. "Fortunately, I got a couple of good hits and we got the win."
Hefner (1-2) allowed three runs on six hits. He struck out four and didn't walk anyone, although he did uncork a wild pitch that yielded the Phillies' first run. Hefner was touched for runs in each of the first two innings before settling in, taking a 4-2 lead into the sixth.
That's when Hefner had to bear down a bit. The Phillies cut the deficit to 4-3 in the sixth when Baxter couldn't cleanly play Hunter Pence's double down the leftfield line, allowing Juan Pierre to score all the way from first with no outs and enabling Pence to reach third on the error.
However, Hefner kept the tying run from scoring. He got Ty Wigginton, who had six RBIs in Monday's game, to ground out to first, struck out Shane Victorino swinging and got Placido Polanco to fly out to left, ending the threat.
"That was big," Collins said. "Yeah, it was really big. There's a point where I think you've got to grow and you've got to let them get themselves out of trouble. So I thought tonight was one of those times."
Hairston pinch hit for Heffner in the Mets' half of the inning, bombing one down the leftfield line with Quintanilla on second for a 6-3 advantage, chasing Philly starter Joe Blanton (4-5).
"As a team," Hairston said, "it was a feel-good game."