ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Almost 4 1/2 years passed between Jerry Manuel’s 500th victory as a big league manager and his 501st.
David Wright singled home the tying run with two outs in the ninth inning against All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez and Damion Easley homered in the 10th to give the Mets a 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.
“This is something I’ve been waiting for a long time,” Manuel said. “To come back and win this game against that type of team—and the way in which we did it—was very impressive.”
“It’s been a whirlwind of emotions for them, really,” Manuel added. “I think yesterday we played as if we were still under a cloud. And regardless of the outcome of this game, I still would have been very proud of the way they played. They were up for the game the entire time.”
Manuel lost his debut with the Mets 6-1 Tuesday night. But the former AL Manager of the Year clapped his hands in the dugout to celebrate when Billy Wagner closed out this win.
“It’s not about Jerry. It’s about us getting ourselves going,” Wagner said. “When the team plays good, the manager gets credit. And tonight was a big win because we took the series and beat a team that’s really good. We needed to get it done as efficiently as possible. This team needed a big hit, and David was the right person at the right time.”
Wright lined a 2-1 slider to left field for his team-high 54th RBI after Jose Reyes singled for his third hit of the game and advanced on a wild pitch.
“I’ve been struggling with runners in scoring position all year, so it was good to come through,” Wright said. “I take a lot of pride in being the guy that the team wants up there in the clutch with the game on the line.”
The blown save was the second in 30 opportunities this season for Rodriguez, and snapped his franchise-record streak of 25 consecutive conversions. His only other blown save was on April 7 against Cleveland, when he inherited a 2-1 lead from starter Joe Saunders and gave up back-to-back RBI doubles to Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta.
“We’ve been losing these close games all year, so it was good to win a close one against one of the best teams in baseball,” Wright said. “To take two out of three, considering the circumstances we’ve been going through the last few days, it’s pretty impressive.”
Easley connected with two outs off Justin Speier (0-4), hitting a drive into the left-field bullpen for his second home run of the season.
“It feels good to contribute to a win, and it was a much-needed win,” said Easley, who began his big league career with the Angels in 1992. “Once David got that hit, we honestly felt like it was our game. It was great for us to show some resiliency, and hopefully it’ll kick-start us.”
The home run was the seventh allowed by Speier in 28 innings.
“We win as a team, we lose as a team. I just ended up giving up the winning run,” Speier said. “I made a bad pitch. It stinks, and we lost the game. I made one mistake, and he got me.”
Mets relievers allowed one hit over the final four innings. Wagner, whose recent slump of three straight blown saves hastened Randolph’s departure, pitched a perfect 10th for his 16th save.
Duaner Sanchez (3-0) pitched a perfect ninth inning for the victory.
Reyes, who threw his batting helmet when Manuel pulled him Tuesday night with a leg injury in the first inning, scored all three times he earned his way on base.
“He had a great series. When you see him up close you can see why everyone’s excited about him,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Mets left-hander Oliver Perez gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings. He squandered an early 3-0 lead, displaying some of the inconsistency that’s hurt him this season.
After trimming New York’s margin to 3-1 on an RBI single by Jeff Mathis in the fourth, the Angels loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth. Los Angeles pulled ahead 4-3 with a two-run single by Vladimir Guerrero and an RBI single by Torii Hunter.
But the AL West leaders ran themselves out of that inning, too, as the Mets pulled off an unorthodox double play.
With runners at the corners, Robb Quinlan hit a grounder that Wright fielded behind third base. Wright threw out Guerrero at the plate, then Hunter was caught napping midway between second and third before Wright tagged him out in a rundown.
Carlos Delgado, the Mets’ regular first baseman, made only his third start as a designated hitter since leaving Toronto as a free agent after the 2004 season. He homered to center field leading off the fourth to increase New York’s lead to 3-0.
The Mets used their 49th different starting lineup, with Easley at 2B and newly acquired Trot Nixon in LF. … New York is 97-92 during interleague play, and 5-4 against the Angels. The Mets have seven games left against AL teams, three against Seattle and four against the Yankees. … Mets GM Omar Minaya held the same job with the Montreal Expos during Guerrero’s final two seasons with the team. Before batting practice on Tuesday, Minaya walked over to Guerrero and gave him a big bear hug.