NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Mets are convinced their earlier struggles have made them stronger for the stretch.
Michael Conforto homered twice, Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil hit two-run shots and surging New York beat the Miami Marlins 7-2 Wednesday to complete a four-game sweep.
The Mets took another early lead and posted their sixth straight victory, winning for the 13th time in 14 games. New York has swept the last-place Marlins three times this season.
They sat a season-high 11 games under .500 after dropping their first following the All-Star Game, but the Mets (59-56) have won at a torrid pace and own a major league-best 19-6 record since the break.
“We’re trying to accomplish something as a team together that can be very special and then the things that we’ve gone through, some rough patches, have only brought us closer together,” manager Mickey Callaway said.
“If we were a team that had just breezed through until now and been in a similar spot, we wouldn’t be as close of a unit so there is a silver lining to our struggles,” he said.
Steven Matz (7-7) won again at Citi Field, helping New York stay in the thick of the NL wild-card race.
Matz worked at a quick and easy pace, allowing two runs on seven hits and two walks over 6 2/3 innings, striking out seven. He is 5-0 with an 2.14 ERA in 10 starts at home this year.
“I think it’s a testament to the whole team,” he said. “Even though when we went through a bad stretch there for a little while, everybody kept their heads down and kept working and it’s paying off right now.”
Following a four-pitch walk to Conforto in the first inning, Alonso homered for the third straight game, connecting off Jordan Yamamoto (4-3) for his 37th home run. The rookie’s homer marked the seventh straight time the Mets have scored in the first, something they haven’t done since 2010.
“We’ve been hitting well, our defense has been awesome and our pitching’s been lights out,” Alonso said. “So I think that’s going to be a really tough combo for our opponents to handle and we just need to keep rolling and take it day by day.”
Matz reached on a leadoff single in the third and scored on Conforto’s 24th homer and 100th of his career, a first-pitch shot that hooked just inside the right field foul pole to give New York a 4-1 lead. Conforto has homered seven times in his last 11 games.
“To be able to do it here at home was pretty awesome,” Conforto said of the milestone, which made him the 14th player in franchise history to hit 100 homers in a Mets uniform. “Hopefully I hit a lot more but today was special.”
McNeil, the major league batting leader, lined his 15th home run off reliever Jose Quijada in the seventh. Conforto took Quijada deep two batters later for his fifth career multi-homer game.
“We’re stacking good at-bats on top of each other,” Conforto said. “I think we’ve just kind of rallied around each other in the second half here.”
Lewis Brinson put Miami on the board with an RBI single in the second. Brian Anderson added a solo homer in the sixth, his 18th.
Bryan Holaday chased Matz with a two-out double in the seventh. Veteran Martin Prado greeted reliever Justin Wilson with a pinch-hit single, moving Holaday to third. Wilson recovered, fanning Jon Berti to end the threat.
“It’s frustrating,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We kind of got manhandled the whole trip.”
STREAKING AT CITI
The Mets have won eight straight at Citi Field, their longest home streak since winning 12 in a row from Sept. 27, 2014, through April 23, 2015.
BEEN A WHILE
New York’s 13-1 run matches its best 14-game stretch since June 22-July 6, 1990.
Members of the Mets relief corps presented Conforto with a damaged baseball, trying to pass it off as the one hit for his milestone home run. The seams were significantly frayed on the inscribed ball, giving the appearance that it had been chewed up by a dog.
“This is a joke that the bullpen thought would be funny, to say this was my home run ball,” he said, gripping the phony keepsake. “As you can see we’re still having fun out here.”
Conforto noted that the actual ball had been retrieved and was in much better condition.
Marlins: SS Miguel Rojas was placed on the 10-day injured list prior to the game with a strained right hamstring. He was injured Tuesday night, stumbling over first base while trying to avoid a double play.
Mets: C Wilson Ramos was behind the plate for all nine innings despite a noon start following a night game. Callaway cited Ramos’ preparation and strong desire to play as reasons, along with an off day Thursday.
Marlins: RHP Elieser Hernandez (1-4, 5.66 ERA) takes on former Cy Young Award winner LHP Dallas Keuchel (3-4, 3.86 ERA) Thursday as Miami hosts Atlanta for the first of four games.
Mets: RHP Marcus Stroman (6-11, 3.07 ERA) is set to make his Citi Field debut Friday night against RHP Stephen Strasburg (14-5, 3.72 ERA) and the division-rival Nationals. Acquired from Toronto for two minor leaguers on July 28, the Long Island native allowed three runs in 4 1/3 innings Saturday in Pittsburgh.
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