New York Mets third baseman David Wright delivered his first career walk-off home run Thursday. Though his go-ahead homer in Friday night’s game wasn’t quite as dramatic, it was just as important to the Mets’ playoff chase.
After homering in his second consecutive game to lead his club into second place in the NL East, Wright looks to continue his hot hitting as the Mets continue a crucial three-game series against the division rival Florida Marlins on Saturday night at Shea Stadium.
New York’s struggling bullpen blew a two-run lead in the final two innings Thursday, but Wright rescued it with a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to give the Mets a 5-3 victory over San Diego.
On Friday night, Wright did his damage in the first inning, staking starter Oliver Perez to a 2-0 lead with a two-run shot to left field. The Mets (61-54) went on to win 3-0, notching consecutive victories for the first time since a three-game win streak from July 23-25.
“We need to do a better job getting to the relievers with a good lead,” Wright said, “give them a cushion.”
After going 3-for-22 (.136) with five strikeouts on a 1-5 road trip against Florida and Houston, Wright is 6-for-18 (.333) with two homers and five RBIs in the first four games of the Mets’ seven-game homestand.
His hot hitting has helped the Mets pass the Marlins (61-55) for second place in the NL East and pull within one game of division-leading Philadelphia.
The Marlins were held to two hits Friday - just the third time this season they’ve had two or fewer. They’ve also gone four games without a home run for the first time in 2008, batting .218 with 31 strikeouts in that stretch.
“Right now, our struggles are we’re swinging at some pitches we shouldn’t be swinging at,” third baseman Wes Helms told the Marlins’ official Web site. “Overall, we just need to put together some good at-bats and try to string some things together.”
The Marlins hope to get back on track offensively for Saturday’s starter Scott Olsen (6-6, 3.87 ERA). The team has lost Olsen’s last three starts while giving him only five runs of support in 17 2-3 innings in those games. Olsen held Colorado to one hit while striking out six in six shutout innings Sunday, but didn’t get a decision in the 3-2 defeat.
Olsen is 1-3 with a 4.14 ERA in 10 career starts against the Mets, including 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA in two outings against them this season - both Marlins losses. Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran is 9-for-22 (.409) with two homers, two doubles and four walks against the left-hander.
With scheduled starter John Maine on the disabled list with a strained right rotator cuff, the Mets are expected to call up Brian Stokes, who’s making his season debut in the majors. The right-hander is 10-8 with a 4.41 ERA in 23 games - 22 starts - for Triple-A New Orleans this season, and 3-7 with a 6.46 ERA in 64 career games - four starts - with Tampa Bay spanning the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
Stokes has given up five runs while recording only two outs in his two career relief appearances against the Marlins.