Luis Rojas gambled and lost, but a dependable bat came to the rookie manager’s rescue Wednesday night.
Michael Conforto turned a blown save by a Seth Lugo-less bullpen into a magical moment in this Mets’ season with his loudest hit of the year. Conforto’s two-run homer in the ninth resurrected the Mets and sparked a third straight victory, 5-3 over the Marlins.
After Dellin Betances and Edwin Diaz flushed a Jacob deGrom win in the eighth, Conforto followed Brandon Nimmo’s two-out single against Brandon Kintzler with a shot over the center-field fence for the go-ahead runs. The three-game winning streak is the Mets’ longest of the season.
Lugo, who presumably will replace struggling Steven Matz in the rotation for Thursday’s start, watched as Diaz struck out the side in the ninth to finish it.
Betances, working for a second straight day, was entrusted a 3-1 lead in the eighth and couldn’t protect it. After Betances drilled Eddy Alvarez with the bases loaded to force in a run, Diaz entered and walked Logan Forsythe on five pitches to tie it.
DeGrom, returning to the rotation after his last start was skipped because of neck stiffness, allowed four hits and struck out seven. He was removed after throwing 91 pitches and watched as Jeurys Familia and Justin Wilson survived the seventh with the lead before Betances and Diaz folded in the eighth.
DeGrom’s dominant return was welcomed by the Mets, who had survived starts by Robert Gsellman and Corey Oswalt in the first two games of this series. Walker Lockett had replaced deGrom as the starter last Friday in Philadelphia and allowed six runs over five innings in a Mets loss. The Mets are also without lefty David Peterson, who was placed on the injured list this week with swelling in his shoulder.
With deGrom removed, Familia walked Francisco Cervelli leading off the seventh, allowing the Marlins to pull within a run on Wilson’s wild pitch later in the inning.
But the Mets got that run back in their next at-bat, as Dominic Smith delivered an RBI double after Conforto had been hit by a pitch and J.D. Davis walked. The sizzling Smith has 16 extra-base hits in 65 at-bats this season and leads the team with 21 RBIs.
Luis Guillorme was instrumental in two Mets’ scoring rallies and finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, as his impressive play continued offensively and defensively.
It was Guillorme’s double, slapped over third base in the second inning, that led to the Mets scoring their first run against Pablo Lopez on Wilson Ramos’ sacrifice fly. In the seventh, Guillorme stroked an RBI single — after Pete Alonso had been intentionally walked — to extend the Mets’ lead to 2-0. Smith was also in the middle of that rally with a double to right leading off the inning.
Guillorme also ranged toward second base on Brian Anderson’s grounder to begin the fourth and threw out Anderson on an off-balance play. In all eight of his starts this season, Guillorme has at least one hit.
DeGrom was tested in the first after Davis’ throwing error on Jesus Aguilar’s grounder and Corey Dickerson’s single with one out. But deGrom responded with consecutive strikeouts of Matt Joyce and Anderson to escape trouble.
Joyce’s single with two outs in the sixth snapped a streak of 10 consecutive batters by deGrom, who rebounded to retire Anderson on his 91st and final pitch of the night.
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