Commentary

Unlikely heroes, events lift Mets in L.A.

Amazin's end scoreless run, losing streak with 6-1 victory in Los Angeles

Updated: July 24, 2010, 9:38 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

LOS ANGELES -- Embattled New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel named his own replacement.

Jason Bay, who cannot hit it over the outfield wall, crashed into it as Mets outfielders repeatedly put their bodies on the line for interim manager Dave Jauss.

Blake DeWitt joined Phil Cuzzi as two of the biggest contributors to Mets success on a woeful three-city trip.

And two other out-of-the-ordinary events occurred Friday night at Dodger Stadium: The Mets scored. And won.

Johan Santana limited an opponent to one run or fewer for the fifth straight start, Bay had a stellar catch and a three-run double and the Mets ended a 17-inning scoreless drought in a 6-1 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Jason Bay
Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireJason Bay and the Mets put an end to the club's four-game losing streak on Friday.

The Mets, who had been blanked by the combination of Hiroki Kuroda and Hong-Chih Kuo in Thursday's series opener, got a break in the first inning to take the lead Friday. After Jose Reyes' leadoff double, Luis Castillo's infield single advanced Reyes to third and newly installed No. 3 hitter Angel Pagan struck out.

With Reyes and Castillo then in motion on a two-strike offering to David Wright, the Mets looked headed for a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play. Wright swung through the pitch and catcher Russell Martin's throw to second base had Castillo nailed, well before Reyes would have crossed the plate. Instead, DeWitt dropped the throw from Martin at second base, Castillo and Reyes were safe and the Mets led 1-0.

The Mets took a 2-0 lead an inning later when rookie first baseman Ike Davis belted a 53 mph lob from Vicente Padilla over the center-field wall. It was the second time in three pitches to Davis that Padilla threw the slow-motion offering.

The Mets' lead should have grown larger. But unlike Sunday's game in San Francisco -- when Cuzzi incorrectly ruled the Giants' Travis Ishikawa out at the plate in the ninth inning and the Mets won an inning later -- the call went against the Mets.

After Davis' homer, the Mets had two runners in scoring position with two out when Castillo hit a grounder to shortstop. Replays showed he beat the throw, but first-base ump Doug Eddings ruled Castillo out, depriving the Mets of at least one run -- not exactly something a struggling offense seemingly could afford. Manuel was ejected for the third time this season during an ensuing argument.

"I thought he was ready to make an out call regardless of what he saw," Manuel said about the umpire. "That's the only thing that bothered me."

Jauss, the bench coach, took over for Manuel on a very interim basis -- 7½ innings.

Under Jauss, the Mets played passionately.

Bay, who had been in a 4-for-36 rut and RBI-less over his past 10 games, was benched Thursday. He then took early batting practice Friday at Dodger Stadium.

He ultimately came through with a big hit. First, though, Bay's glove proved to be his primary asset.

Bay corralled Jamey Carroll's shot and then slammed into the left-field wall on an inning-ending catch in the second. He was escorted off the field by trainer Ray Ramirez and Jauss. The acting manager hobbled to the outfield on a gimpy knee to check on Bay. Jauss somehow injured the knee the previous day.

Bay's back was his primary issue, but should not prevent him from playing Saturday. He had chain marks on his left knee from the jolt, but that turned out to be a nonissue.

"Extremely minor," Bay labeled the injury. "... All I know was I was lying on the ground, and then I heard everybody go 'ooooh' [after watching the video replay]. My head was fine. My back got folded up backward. I knew it wasn't looking good. I was thankful I had the ball in my glove at that point. It would have been that much worse."

Bay, who remained in the game, made the first of four stellar catches by Mets outfielders. On consecutive plays in the fourth inning, Pagan made sliding catches in right field to retire Matt Kemp and Casey Blake. On the latter play, Pagan slid into the wall in foul territory down the right-field line after making the catch. It was in that spot in left field at Dodger Stadium on May 7, 2008 that Pagan flipped over the side wall attempting to make a catch. He tore the labrum in his left shoulder and ultimately underwent surgery that summer.

Even Carlos Beltran, who is wearing a brace on his arthritic right knee, got into the act. The center fielder made a sliding catch while charging in to retire Andre Ethier in the sixth.

Pagan nearly had an outfield assist, too. In the fifth inning, he caught Carroll's fly ball and fired a one-hop strike to catcher Henry Blanco, trying to retire a tagging Russell Martin. Pagan's throw had Martin by several steps, but Blanco dropped the ball and the Dodgers pulled within 2-1.

The Mets ultimately restored a two-run cushion in the eighth when Jauss -- looking a lot like Manuel -- had the No. 3 hitter Pagan bunt with nobody out to advance two runners. Wright then delivered a sacrifice fly.

Bay, who had the pregame hitting tutorial, eventually batted that inning with the bases loaded and two out after walks to Beltran and Davis. He delivered a three-run double to the right-center gap to increase the Mets' lead to 6-1.

"That was probably the biggest hit for us, for Jason to be the guy," Manuel said. "After we take a couple of walks, and him be the guy to hit the ball and score three runs, that's very big for us."

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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