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Neil Walker’s walk-off hit lifts Mets over Giants

Neil Walker #20 of the New York Mets

Neil Walker #20 of the New York Mets celebrates his ninth inning game winning base hit against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field on Monday, May 8, 2017 in the Queens Borough of New York City. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

To a man Monday afternoon, the Mets shook their heads at the suggestion that distraction had driven them to one of their worst performances of the season. Yes, the timing looked suspect. But Matt Harvey’s no-show controversy wasn’t the reason they had been overmatched by the Marlins the day before.

It had simply been a bad day.

Then the Mets proved that point in the ninth inning Monday night as Neil Walker drilled a walk-off single to give the Mets a 4-3 win over the Giants.

Despite being a traveling soap opera complete with injury hijinks and needless drama from a repeat offender, the Mets won for the seventh time in 10 games.

“Considering all that’s going on around here, we’re doing a really good job of compartmentalizing and focusing on what’s going on on the field,” said Walker, who gave the Mets their first walk-off win of the season.

The ball had yet to land on the grass in rightfield, but right away, the Mets knew. At first base, Wilmer Flores raised his arm. At second base, Michael Conforto followed suit. At the plate, Walker savored the third walk-off hit of his career and his first as a member of the Mets.

“[Sunday] was obviously not a good day,” Walker said. “But we’ve got so many good quality character players in here that when bad days happen, when bad series happen, we’re able to turn the page pretty quickly.”

The rally began with a leadoff walk by Conforto. With two outs, Flores’ bouncer hit pitcher Hunter Strickland’s left leg and trickled toward short for an infield hit.

Walker finished it off, giving the Mets a much-needed victory during what has been a turbulent stretch in Flushing.

“They showed up today and got after it,” manager Terry Collins said. “You’ve got to be resilient in this game.”

A year ago, the two teams tangled in a classic National League wild-card game, with Jeurys Familia giving up the deciding homer in the ninth. This time Familia emerged with the win, shutting down the Giants in the ninth and setting the stage for Walker.

“What happened last year is what happened,” said Familia, who lowered his ERA to 1.13. “I try to move forward and do my job. It doesn’t matter the team.”

Neither team looked much like last October’s version. The Giants (11-21) arrived at Citi Field with a .344 winning percentage, the worst in the NL and the second worst in all of baseball. They were fresh off being swept by the Reds and getting outscored 31-5 in three games.

But the Mets’ recent problems seemed to defy measurement, with Harvey’s no-show beginning another round of hand-wringing after Noah Syndergaard’s refusal to have an MRI and subsequent injury. Still, the Mets (15-16) endured.

Jacob deGrom, who allowed three runs in six innings, battled with his pitch count. He finished with 11 strikeouts, giving him 41 in his last five games.

Hunter Pence hit a two-run shot in the first, but Walker cut the Mets’ deficit in half with an RBI ground-rule double in the bottom of the inning. DeGrom led off the fifth with a single and scored on T.J. Rivera’s double to the leftfield corner, tying the score at 2.

Buster Posey homered in the sixth on another deGrom fastball that found the heart of the plate, putting the Giants ahead 3-2.

But the lead was short-lived. With two outs in the sixth, Curtis Granderson came off the bench to deliver an RBI double that one-hopped the fence in left, allowing the Mets to tie it for the second time.

“We show up to the ballpark ready to play,” deGrom said. “We try not to let things that happen off the field distract us. We know we have a good team.”

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