- Adam Rubin, ESPNNewYork.com
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DENVER -- Carlos Beltran has produced no shortage of achievements during a 13-year major league career, including matching Barry Bonds' record with eight postseason homers with the Houston Astros in 2004 before signing that megadeal with the New York Mets.
Still, Beltran wondered if he would ever homer three times in a game.
Yes, he would. It took until his 1,662nd game, as the days to the July 31 trading deadline and the time remaining in his Mets career appear dwindling.
Beltran homered three times for the first time in his career Thursday, each time with Willie Harris on board, as the injury-depleted Mets -- playing without Ike Davis and David Wright -- beat the Colorado Rockies, 9-5, at Coors Field.
"I was always wondering, 'How's it feel for those players to get three homers in a game?'" Beltran said. "It feels great. ... Being able to [do] something like this, I feel like a little kid, honestly. I was smiling. I never smile a lot, but I was smiling. I was happy."
Beltran's 17th multi-homer game as a Met tied Mike Piazza for second-most in franchise history, behind only Darryl Strawberry's 22.
It was the eighth three-homer game in franchise history -- the last by Jose Reyes in 2006 against the Philadelphia Phillies. Each of those eight has come on the road. The only other time all three homers came with a runner on base was in 1976, by Dave Kingman at Dodger Stadium.
Beltran's six RBIs matched his career high, last done with the Kansas City Royals in 2003.
The switch-hitting Beltran has homered from both sides of the plate in a game eight times in his career. He has done so five times as a Met, tying Todd Hundley for the franchise record.
The Mets desperately needed the production, too. Wright was resting for a second straight day with a lower-back issue, although he intends to return to the lineup Friday in Houston. Davis, who had been the team's home run leader with seven until Beltran overtook him Thursday with Nos. 6 through 8, landed on the disabled list earlier in the day with a left ankle injury.
Beltran's final homer came in the ninth inning off ex-Met Matt Lindstrom, who had struck out Beltran the previous game. Beltran had been waiting to pounce on a slider, and told Harris as much before the final inning.
"Before the at-bat, we were both down by the bat rack," Harris said. "And he said, 'It's going to be some revenge on this guy.' And I'm like, 'What are you talking about?' He explained it to me that [Tuesday] night the guy struck him out on three pitches.
"He was sitting slider and [Lindstrom] threw it. That's why he's El Caballo. That's why he is who he is. That was some revenge. I mean, a slider down and out like that. Not many people can do that."
Said Beltran: "If he would have thrown me a fastball, I probably would have struck out, because I was looking for that pitch."
Beltran is playing more than manager Terry Collins ever imagined going into the season.
Beltran had served as DH against the Boston Red Sox during an early Grapefruit League game, then did not reappear until two games the final week of spring training because of knee woes. Collins strategically rested Beltran the matinee finales of the opening four series of the regular season. Beltran subsequently started 21 straight games, which seemed inconceivable given his chronic knee woes.
"I'm very, very surprised," Collins said.
Said Beltran: "At the beginning, I think Terry did a good job giving me a day off every three, every four days. After that, he asked me, 'How do you feel? Do you need a day off?' But I was feeling good. I was feeling good physically. My knee was responding well. And I was starting to feel better at the plate. So I told him I want to continue to play. Right now I'm not really thinking about my knee anymore."
Carlos Beltran's three HRs came in the nick of time for the depleted Mets.