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Takahashi returns to form as Mets finally win two straight road games

New York Mets' Hisanori Takahashi of Japan, delivers

New York Mets' Hisanori Takahashi of Japan, delivers during the first inning. (June 12, 2010) Credit: AP

BALTIMORE - The cab ride from the Mets' hotel to Camden Yards is a short one, but it was long enough for David Wright, Jeff Francoeur and Rod Barajas to talk about the task that awaited them against the Orioles.

When someone mentioned that the Mets had not won back-to-back games on the road since July 26 of last season, an incredulous Barajas blurted out a quote resembling, "Y'all stunk."

There was no argument. But the Mets responded in the best way possible by putting that odious fact to rest with a 3-1 victory over the Orioles last night. Hisanori Takahashi, his grip on a rotation spot weakening, rebounded with seven strong innings and Francoeur and Jose Reyes each homered as the Mets (34-28) moved six games over .500 for the first time this season.

By finally winning consecutive games away from Citi Field, the Mets ended a 56-game streak, the longest since a 64-game stretch over the 1963-64 seasons and third longest overall.

"It was embarrassing," Francoeur said. "It really was. As a team, it's something we can laugh about. But it kind of shows how bad things were last year."

But wait, there's more. The Mets also clinched their first road series win in 10 tries, the longest stretch of futility to begin a season since 1983, when they went winless in 16 straight road series. For the record, they also dropped their final road series last year, a sweep by the Nationals in D.C. In taking two straight from the lowly Orioles, however, the Mets are hoping it's a conversation-changer.

"I think so," manager Jerry Manuel said. "It's been a big story, and to put that in the rear-view mirror, it probably is a confidence boost."

Takahashi had something to prove as well after two lackluster starts and he quieted his manager's concerns by allowing six hits and one run over seven innings. Takahashi (5-2) earned his first victory since May 26 and lowered his ERA to 3.48.

It didn't look very promising at the start as Takahashi gave up a pair of doubles to two of the first three hitters he faced - Corey Patterson and Nick Markakis. That tied the score at 1 after Reyes' leadoff homer. But Takahashi settled down to retire 10 of the next 12 before a walk to Craig Tatum to opened the fifth.

"He doesn't seem to get flustered," Manuel said. "He's very poised. It's like a walk in the park to him. We played pretty good defense, too."

That included a gem by second baseman Ruben Tejada, 20, who made a pretty jump-and-throw to rob Adam Jones leading off the seventh inning.

"We've got to continue to play well," said Francisco Rodriguez, who earned his 13th save. "The division is getting closer and closer. The confidence has been there. We need to build that momentum."

Reyes opened with a home run off Orioles starter Brian Matusz and Francoeur made it 3-1 in the eighth with his seventh homer - and first since May 18 in Atlanta. In between, with the score tied at 1, the Mets got a gift go-ahead run in the sixth when Julio Lugo's high throw botched what should have been an inning-ending double play.

After Francoeur revealed the Barajas blunder, the catcher issued a mea culpa. Or just made sure that it was past tense.

"I just said they had a tough year," Barajas said, smiling. "I'm just glad we finally got two wins on the road. That's amazing."

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