MIAMI — Juan Lagares delivered a knuckle sandwich Monday night, just in time to help rescue the Mets from a potential second straight late-inning flop.
Attempting to sacrifice bunt with two strikes in the ninth inning, Lagares appeared out on a foul ball, but plate umpire Sam Holbrook ruled the pitch had struck Lagares’ right hand. With the call upheld on replay, the Mets soon had a rally — that included Pete Alonso’s first major league homer — and a 7-3 victory over the Marlins.
Lagares remained in the game massaging the knuckle on his right index finger and Amed Rosario delivered a go-ahead RBI single against Drew Steckinrider. The rookie Alonso then unleashed a blast over the center-field fence that brought in the Mets’ final three runs.
Not to be lost in the ninth-inning rally was Dominic Smith’s pinch-hit single against the shift. Lagares then came to the plate looking to bunt him to second and got drilled.
Edwin Diaz loaded the bases with nobody out in the ninth on two hits and a walk before striking out the next three batters. The victory was the Mets’ third in four games to begin the season.
Tim Peterson and Jeurys Familia combined for 2 ²/₃ innings of shutout relief behind Steven Matz, getting the game to the ninth at 3-3.
“We have to come out this series and play like they are the Nationals,” manager Mickey Callaway said of the underwhelming Marlins before the game. “We can’t let up. These are the games, these are the series that mean just as much. You look up at the end of the year and you need to have taken care of business, whether it’s the Nationals or the Marlins. We have to take care of business and play the game the exact same way.”
Matz was solid, allowing three runs — two of which were unearned — on six hits over 5 ¹/₃ innings. The left-hander threw only 74 pitches, pounding the strike zone to induce swings early in the count.
Lagares homered against Marlins reliever Tyler Kinley leading off the seventh to tie it 3-3. It was a second straight big late-inning hit for Lagares, whose RBI single in Sunday’s eighth inning in Washington tied the game.
Starlin Castro’s RBI single in the sixth put the Mets in a 3-2 hole after J.D. Davis had mishandled Lagares’ strong throw to third base on a single to center. Lagares was charged with an error on the play, but the one-hop throw ticked off Davis’ glove, wasting a chance for a tag play at the base.
Davis, inserted in the cleanup spot, doubled leading off the fourth and scored on Caleb Smith’s wild pitch to tie it 2-2.
Jeff McNeil’s RBI double in the second gave the Mets their first run. McNeil returned to the starting lineup after sitting on Sunday against Nationals lefty Patrick Corbin, following a four-hit performance the previous day.
McNeil had a chance to put the Mets ahead in the sixth, but struck out against reliever Nick Anderson to leave runners stranded on the corners.
The lefty Smith kept the Marlins in the game by allowing two earned runs on four hits and one walk over five innings with eight strikeouts.
Matz began the game by striking out Miguel Rojas, but the pitch eluded Wilson Ramos, and Rojas was safe at first on the passed ball. With two outs, Starlin Castro hammered a 2-2 hanging curveball for a two-run homer. Both runs were unearned because of Ramos’ passed ball.