New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes (7) runs up the...

New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes (7) runs up the first base line after connecting for a two run triple in the bottom of the second inning against the San Francisco Giants. (May 5, 2011) Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

Those ninth-inning meltdowns and dramatic recoveries are an all-too familiar, if not an expected, sight with Francisco Rodriguez on the mound.

The routine -- put runners on base before narrowly escaping the jam -- has become so predictable, it elicited only a laugh and a rather nonchalant reaction from manager Terry Collins after the Mets avoided a sweep with a 5-2 win over the Giants Thursday.

"I've seen it before with Frankie," Collins said of his closer, who walked two of the seven batters he faced before earning a four-out save. "This guy just needs to have some tension, needs to have it be on the edge. I think that's where he pitches the best.

" . . . I wish he wouldn't do that. I'm too old to watch some of that stuff."

Luckily for the Mets, Rodriguez's command issues weren't enough to derail a gutsy effort by starter Mike Pelfrey. The righthander tossed a season-best 7 2/3 innings, which was his longest outing since when he went eight innings Aug. 27 last season.

Pelfrey (2-3) allowed just one earned run and four hits, striking out five and walking two. He lasted just 4 1/3 innings in his previous start, after giving up four runs and eight hits in a 10-3 loss to the Phillies. But with a healthier Pelfrey on the mound, the Mets (13-18) earned their second win in seven games.

"Mechanically, I felt awesome, and that allowed me to put the ball where I wanted to," said the starter, who is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA and 12 strikeouts in his past three outings. " . . . The fastball command on the inside of the plate was the best it's been all year."

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Though he stumbled into trouble in the fourth and fifth, he didn't cave. After Mike Fontenot's home run in the fourth cut the Mets' lead to 3-1, a two-base throwing error by Jose Reyes allowed Nate Schierholtz to start the fifth on second base. He later scored on an RBI single by Jonathan Sanchez to pull the Giants within 3-2.

Pelfrey admitted he was "trying to overthrow and do too much and trying to make things happen" during those middle innings. But in the seventh and eighth innings, things just "clicked again." Pelfrey, who used words like "nice and easy" and "effortless" to describe his effort, believes he's turned the corner.

"That is the best I've seen him look this season," said knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

Pelfrey drew strength from his previous struggles -- most notably from May to August last season. "I was able to get through that," said Pelfrey, who had battled stomach virus and flu symptoms up until his previous start. "So through this whole time I've been telling myself, 'Hey, it's going to get better. You've been through worse stretches than this. And you're going to get through this.' "

Jason Bay put the Mets on the board first, scoring on a Ronny Paulino-induced double-play with one out in the second inning, before a two-run triple by Reyes made it 3-0.

With the score 3-2 in the fifth, David Wright singled with one out before Beltran hit his fifth home run just over the leftfield wall.

But Rodriguez nearly blew the lead in the ninth with a pair of walks and a single.

"I didn't have a great feel for anything today," said the closer, who threw 42 pitches, five shy of his career high, to earn his seventh save. "Fastball command, breaking pitch -- everything. I feel the ball was totally flat coming out of my hand."

Rodriguez also denied Collins' claim that he prefers to pitch under pressure. "It should be the same way in every single situation. I don't feel like that," he said. "[There have] been too many situations where I've fallen behind on too many hitters. I either walk them or they end up getting a base hit.

"That's something I have to make some adjustment about it, be better at it and keep moving forward."


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