PHOENIX — Nothing went the Mets’ way on Sunday until, down to their last out, suddenly everything went their way.
Arizona catcher Alex Avila fielded a bunt by Jose Reyes that appeared to be headed foul. Jose Bautista’s fly ball to deep right deflected off Jon Jay’s glove and become an RBI double. Brandon Nimmo homered. Asdrubal Cabrera homered.
The frenzied few minutes became a four-run inning, the Mets’ biggest in three weeks, and led to a 5-3 victory over the Diamondbacks. The Mets (30-38) earned a series split against the NL West leaders and consecutive wins for the first time since May 18-21.
“The way we won is probably more significant than just getting a back-to-back win,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “That’s something we were doing early on [this season], which feels like three years ago.”
To call the Mets’ comeback improbable would sell it short. With Arizona leading by two runs and Dominic Smith and Kevin Plawecki having struck out to begin the ninth, the Diamondbacks’ win probability as Reyes stepped to the plate was 98.7 percent, according to FanGraphs.
Reyes, batting .154 and making his first start since late May, dropped down a first-pitch bunt for a single.
“Just try to get on base,” he said.
Said Nimmo: “That took a lot of awareness.”
Bautista, pinch hitting for Jeurys Familia and 2-for-his-last-25, fell behind 1-and-2 before doubling to the warning track in right, making it a one-run game.
Nimmo then sent an 0-and-1 changeup 419 feet to right for a sudden Mets lead. He is up to 10 homers this year, double his 2017 total in 10 fewer games.
“I wasn’t trying to hit a home run there, but I know now with my swing that if I get it on the barrel and the launch angle is right, it’ll go,” Nimmo said. “My main concern there was to get the barrel on the ball and get a base hit and tie this up.”
Nimmo had just taken his batting helmet off when Cabrera swatted a 1-and-1 pitch 421 feet to right-center to give the Mets a 5-3 lead.
In a matter of moments, the mood in the Mets’ dugout changed from desperation to elation.
“Oh, it’s a big change,” Nimmo said. “We’ve been looking for those big hits to come through. To come through on one, it felt like a weight lifted off you.”
Righthander Zack Wheeler had a good day, giving up two runs in six innings. He was perfect through the opening three frames and finished with three hits and two walks allowed. He struck out eight.
“He was tremendous,” Callaway said. “I thought [the first three innings] was probably the best he’d thrown all year.”
Both runs and both walks came in the fourth, when on consecutive batters the Diamondbacks got their first baserunner (Paul Goldschmidt’s walk), first hit (Jake Lamb’s single) and first run (David Peralta’s RBI double). Wheeler threw 36 pitches in the inning, matching his total from the first three.
A couple of iffy ball-strike calls altered the inning. Wheeler had Goldschmidt down 0-and-2 and appeared to paint the outside edge with a fastball, but plate umpire Jim Reynolds called it a ball. Half of the pitches in a four-pitch walk to Daniel Descalso also appeared to catch a corner.
Jason Vargas, who was not playing in the game, voiced his displeasure from the dugout and was ejected for his efforts.
That all turned Wheeler’s outing into a de facto draw with Clay Buchholz in a duel between former premier pitching prospects (separated by a half-decade) whose careers have been hampered by injuries. Buchholz held the Mets to one run in 5 2⁄3 innings.
The Mets waited until closer Brad Boxberger, pitching for the third time in four games, got in the game before rallying.
“I don’t know what it means for the future,” Nimmo said. “But for right now, to get two wins in a row against a good Diamondbacks team, that’s awesome.”