NEW YORK (AP) — Yoenis Cespedes homered with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the New York Mets a 2-1 victory over the Miami Marlins in the first game of a pivotal series between National League playoff contenders Monday night.
Jose Reyes dashed home to score the tying run in the eighth on a dangerous collision at the plate, and the Mets pulled even with Miami for second place in the NL East. With its seventh victory in nine games, New York remained 2 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the league’s second wild card.
It was an exhilarating win for the Mets, who appeared to be at a major disadvantage on the mound in the opener of a four-game set. New York was shut out for six innings by Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, but Mets starter Rafael Montero also put up zeros in his first major league start since April 2015.
Recalled from Double-A Binghamton before the game, Montero went five innings and worked around six walks — most by a Mets pitcher this season. The right-hander yielded only two hits during a spot start for Jacob deGrom, skipped in the rotation to rest and regroup following two poor outings in a row.
Rookie left-hander Josh Smoker (1-0) struck out two in a perfect inning for his first major league win. Smoker, who pitched for the third straight day and fourth in the past five, was all fired up coming off the mound.
Cespedes, who sat out Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia after his nagging right quadriceps flared up, launched a no-doubt drive to left-center on a 1-1 pitch from Nick Wittgren (4-3).
The slugger tossed his bat high in the air and then chucked away his helmet as he neared home plate and was swarmed by jubilant teammates.
It was the latest offensive flop for the slumping Marlins, who have dropped five of seven and mustered only 20 runs in their last nine games.
Miami broke a scoreless tie in the eighth when Ichiro Suzuki and Xavier Scruggs hit consecutive two-out doubles off Addison Reed. It was the second hit of the night for the 42-year-old Suzuki, who increased his career total to 3,011 and passed Hall of Famer Wade Boggs for 27th place in major league history.
Reyes opened the bottom half with a double that scooted by a sliding Suzuki in right field as he tried to cut the ball off. Reyes tagged up and went to third on Alejandro De Aza’s long fly to left field, then raced to the plate after A.J. Ramos’ wild pitch.
With the count 0-2 on Cespedes, Ramos threw a high fastball that glanced off the mitt of catcher J.T. Realmuto and went to the screen behind home. Reyes scored with a headfirst dive as Ramos crashed into him hard in the dirt while going down to his knees and reaching for Realmuto’s throw.
Reyes rolled around in discomfort for several seconds, dyed-orange hair visible to all after his helmet popped off. But after manager Terry Collins and a trainer came out to check on him, Reyes walked back to the dugout and remained in the game.
New York could ill afford to lose him — with second baseman Neil Walker and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera ailing, the Mets did not have a healthy infielder on the bench.
Miami added a fresh arm to the bullpen by recalling right-hander Austin Brice from Triple-A New Orleans for his second stint with the big club, both this month. Left-hander Justin Nicolino, who started Sunday and threw 101 pitches in a 3-1 loss to San Diego, was optioned to the Zephyrs.
Marlins: 2B Derek Dietrich (bruised right knee), on a rehab assignment at Double-A Jacksonville, is expected to come off the disabled list in Cleveland on Saturday, the first day he’s eligible. … Miami is counting on RHP Andrew Cashner (finger blister) starting Friday at Cleveland after he was scratched Sunday. If he can’t go, Cashner would likely be placed on the DL and replaced by Nicolino again, manager Don Mattingly said. … OF Giancarlo Stanton (strained left groin) and LHP Adam Conley (finger tendinitis) both went to a doctor in New York for another opinion, Mattingly said. Conley is waiting to be cleared to throw. Miami still hopes Stanton can return in some capacity during the final week of the regular season.
Mets: Walker missed his second consecutive game with a stiff back. Cabrera (left knee) struck out as a pinch-hitter to end the seventh. Before the game, Collins said Walker’s status for Tuesday was uncertain.
Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (9-9, 3.85 ERA) pitches Tuesday night against rookie RHP Seth Lugo (1-2, 2.51), set to make his third career start. Koehler grew up in nearby New Rochelle and is 2-6 with a 4.13 ERA in 19 games, 16 starts, against the Mets. Lugo tossed five shutout innings last Thursday in St. Louis to earn his first major league win.
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