SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP)—The New York Mets brought their road troubles to the tropics, yet still were able to leave Puerto Rico with a much-needed victory.
In the locker room at Hiram Bithorn Stadium, there were no high-fives and few smiles after the Mets won the final game of their Caribbean trip, beating the Florida Marlins 6-5 Wednesday night.
“We didn’t do many things right, but it’s good we were able to salvage one in a close game like this. We’re definitely glad to get out with the win,” said David Wright(notes), who doubled twice and drove in two runs.
Francisco Rodriguez got four outs for his 18th save in 21 chances. He struck out pinch-hitter Brian Barden(notes) with runners at first and third to end the game, sending fireworks into the sky above the ballpark.
The Mets, who have more Puerto Rican players than any other big league team, were the crowd favorite at the cozy stadium. And after waiting out a rain delay of nearly 1 1/2 hours at the beginning, the Mets gave the sellout crowd of 19,232 what they were waiting for during the three-game series.
Mets manager Jerry Manuel said he thinks his team was “a little excitable” to play in Puerto Rico, especially those players with family and friends on the Spanish-speaking U.S. island.
“I think coming here led to some anxious moments. But it’s good to get the win tonight, and I think this series was good for Puerto Rico,” Manuel said.
The Mets, who have struggled on the road all season, ended a streak of four straight losses away from Citi Field.
Wright, who leads the National League with 63 RBIs, helped the Mets score three times in the first. Jesus Feliciano(notes) led off with a double, Ruben Tejada(notes) reached on an error by first baseman Gaby Sanchez(notes), and Wright doubled them home. Wright scored on a hard single by Ike Davis(notes).
The Marlins were hoping to cap their three-game stay with a sweep. Even so, it was a productive stay at their sometimes home, as the team found stability with manager Edwin Rodriguez—the Marlins took off the interim tag Tuesday and said he’ll lead them the rest of the year.
After Wednesday’s narrow loss, Rodriguez, the first Puerto Rico-born manager in the major leagues, said he was proud of the way his team fought to the very end.
“I think it was a good ending, other than the loss. We played very, very well. And the series overall was definitely exciting,” said Rodriguez, whose offseason home is about a five-minute drive “with traffic” away from Hiram Bithorn Stadium.
Florida won the first two games of the tropical series that was moved by Major League Baseball in March from Miami, where the Marlins draw sparse crowds, to Puerto Rico.
But the Marlins’ night also included four errors. The costliest came in the seventh inning, when Wright reached first on a wild throw by third baseman Jorge Cantu(notes). That helped set up Bay’s RBI single.
Cantu made two errors and later left the game, shortly after stretching far for a popup, because of dizziness.
In the fifth, Uggla slid along the turf and somehow grabbed a grounder by Feliciano, then threw out the speedster. In the sixth, after the Mets loaded the bases, shortstop Hanley Ramirez(notes) caught a liner by Feliciano for an unassisted double play.
Scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m., the game did not begin until 8:30 p.m. due to a passing thunderstorm. Fans in slickers soaked up the festive atmosphere, many arriving with cameras or baseballs to get signed. Rodriguez was a top attraction for local autograph seekers.
In the cozy stadium’s corridors, musicians played trumpets and drums as women twirled in red dresses with men wearing straw hats. Dancers maneuvered on stilts, while a few performers in horned “vejigante” masks and ruffled costumes entertained the crowds.
Also thrilling the fans was former New York Yankees All-Star center fielder Bernie Williams, who played renditions of both the U.S. and Puerto Rican anthems on electric guitar for his fellow islanders.
NOTES: The Mets ended a streak of four road losses. … Mets SS Jose Reyes(notes) was scratched from the lineup with a stiff lower back. He will be evaluated Thursday when the team arrive in Washington for a series against the Nationals.