NEW YORK (AP) — Rafael Montero gave the New York Mets another solid start and it paid off this time.
Montero pitched six strong innings, Wilmer Flores and Kevin Plawecki each hit long two-run homers to help the Mets snap a five-game losing streak with an 8-1 win over the Miami Marlins on Saturday night.
Dealing with wildness and inconsistency over the course of his four-year career, Montero struggled for much of 2017 before allowing two runs in six innings in his last start against the Yankees. Mets manager Terry Collins believed that start was ‘the best he’d seen (him) throw.’
“It’s what we’ve been preaching and preaching with him: pound the strike zone,” Collins said. “(He) pitched in on some guys, threw the ball down in the zone, and by doing so, got some good early swings.”
Montero was also pleased with his outing.
“I think my sinker was working really well for me tonight,” Montero said through a translator. “I was able to get a lot of double plays out of it.”
Aided by franchise-record tying five double plays, Montero (2-8) kept the Marlins off-balance with a fastball-slider combination to allow a run on six hits. The right-hander walked three and struck out five. Montero entered the game with a 5.80 ERA.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Conforto each drove in a run for the Mets, who scored seven runs in the sixth — their season high for an inning — after being held to just three base runners over the first five innings by Vance Worley (2-3). New York began the day with an NL-worst .221 batting average in August.
Marcell Ozuna had three hits and drove in Dee Gordon for the lone Miami run. It was the All-Star outfielder’s 43rd multi-hit effort of the season.
Trailing 1-0 in the sixth, Matt Reynolds pinch-hit for Montero and walked to open the inning. Brandon Nimmo singled to advance Reynolds to third. After Cabrera’s sacrifice fly tied the score, Marlins manager Don Mattingly brought in Drew Steckenrider, who hadn’t allowed a runner in his last three outings. Yoenis Cespedes greeted him with a sharp single to left and joined Nimmo in advancing a base on a wild pitch.
After working the count full, Conforto hit a hard grounder up the middle, but the ball sailed under the glove of shortstop Miguel Rojas, giving the Mets a 3-1 lead. Miami made three errors in the inning, leading to three unearned runs. The Marlins entered the game with the third-fewest errors in the majors.
“Pretty sloppy inning on our part,” slugger Giancarlo Stanton said. “Gave them extra chances.”
Stanton walked three times and has drawn five over the first two games in the series in only three official at-bats.
After Rojas’ error, Flores drove a pitch into the left field stands for his 15th home run of the season. Rookie Dominic Smith reached on the third error of the inning before Plawecki, who was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas earlier in the day, connected for his first of the year. The two homers were the first Steckenrider has given up this season.
Smith homered in the eighth to cap the scoring.
Mets: Reliever Jeurys Familia (Blood Clot) worked a scoreless inning for the St. Luice Mets, striking out the side.
COMINGS AND GOINGS
Just one night after trading Curtis Granderson to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Mets continued their roster purge, losing catcher Renee Rivera to the Chicago Cubs on a waiver claim. Rivera was the fifth player to depart the team since July 27. Catcher Kevin Plawecki was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas and left-hander Tommy Milone was activated from the disabled list to fill the two roster spots.
The Marlins sent pitcher Tom Koehler and cash considerations to Toronto for minor league pitcher Osman Gutierrez. Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on July 24 after amassing a 1-5 record in 12 starts with a 7.92 ERA. Gutierrez, a 22-year old right-hander, will report to Single-A Greensboro.
Montero joined Jacob deGrom as Mets starters that induced four groundball double play in a game this season. Coming into the year, the last Mets pitcher to accomplish the feat was Jaw Weong Soo on May 29, 2004. Montero noted that he had never played in a game with that many double plays in his entire baseball career.
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