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Mets 4, Orioles 3

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- For seven innings, the New York Mets appeared set to cruise through another dominating pitching performance, ready to blank the Baltimore Orioles for the third straight time.

But the Orioles finally broke through with a two-run homer by Wilson Betemit in the eighth and five hits in the final two innings to make the Mets sweat before New York escaped with a 4-3 win Wednesday night.

Frank Francisco gave up a pair of one-out singles to Matt Wieters and Nick Johnson in the ninth, before getting Betemit on a pop up for the second out.

But Francisco walked the next two batters, with Steve Pearce's base on balls forcing in a run to make it 4-3.

Francisco then got Brian Roberts on a grounder to second to end the game and earn his 17th save of the season.

Dillon Gee continued a dominant streak for the Mets starters, throwing 7 1/3 innings of two-run ball to follow R.A. Dickey's complete game one-hitter, and Johan Santana's six shutout innings.

David Wright had three hits, including a RBI double, and extended his hitting streak to 11 games. Scott Hairston doubled twice for the Mets, who swept their second series in as many tries against an AL East opponent.

The Mets also were helped by an odd play with two on and one out in the eighth that helped kill a Baltimore rally. Down 4-2, Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy chopped a ball in front of the plate, and the ball hit his bat, which he was still holding as he ran out of the batter's box. The result was a putout attributed to the catcher for the second out of the inning.

After a brief argument from Orioles manager Buck Showalter, reliever Bobby Parnell got Chris Davis on a fly to the warning track in left to end the inning.

It marked the fourth straight series in which the Mets either swept their opponent or were swept. The Yankees and the Cincinnati Reds each took three straight from the Mets, who knocked off the Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays three times each.

Betemit's homer in the eighth finally broke through a string of futility for the Orioles and infallibility by Mets pitchers. The two-run shot provided Baltimore's first runs in the series, and first in 28 innings overall.

It also marked the first runs allowed by the Mets in 29 innings.

After Gee tied his career-high with his ninth strikeout, he walked Pearce on his 100th pitch, prompting manager Terry Collins to go to Parnell. While Gee walked off to a loud ovation after giving up just three hits, Parnell was not greeted as warmly by Baltimore.

Roberts singled Pearce to second. Suddenly, the Orioles were not simply scrapping for a hit after managing just seven in the series' first 25 innings. They were threatening to spoil Gee's start as No. 2 hitter Hardy came up.

But Hardy's odd chopper and interference call and Davis' fly ball ended the inning.

After taking a 3-0 lead against starter Brian Matusz (5-8), the Mets tacked on a run in the sixth against Luis Ayala on Wright's RBI double, which scored Gee, who led off the inning with a double.

Matusz pitched in and out of trouble in the first four innings, stranding several runners. But the Mets tagged him for a pair of runs in the fifth after scoring one in the fourth, to end his night after just 4 2/3 innings. He allowed three runs on seven hits.

Hairston's two doubles helped the Mets take a 3-0 lead after five. He led off the fourth with one and scored when Orioles center fielder Adam Jones just missed making a diving catch on Mike Nickeas' two-out single, as the ball popped out of Jones' glove.

Hairston then doubled in the Mets' second run, as the third of three straight hits for the Mets.

After an intentional walk to Vinny Rottino, Ike Davis drove in a run on a fielder's choice grounder to make it 3-0.

Gee continued the Mets' dominant string of pitching against the Orioles with five shutout innings to start the game. The only hit he allowed through five was a clean single to Matusz with two outs in the third, the pitcher's first major-league hit.

NOTES: Mets right fielder Lucas Duda was out of the lineup with a tight hamstring as a precautionary measure, manager Terry Collins. Collins said Duda could have played, but with the hot temperatures and an off-day Thursday, he decided to rest him. ... Shortstop Ruben Tejada (strained right quadriceps) played his third straight rehab game Wednesday, for Class AAA Buffalo, after playing two games for Class A St. Lucie. ... Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis was hoping to start hitting by Friday, but instead will have his injured right wrist reevaluated. Markakis is on the DL while recovering from surgery for a broken hamate bone in his right hand three weeks ago. He wanted to return by July 1, but manager Buck Showalter said he thought that would be too soon. ... Nick Johnson got his second start of the month and fifth of the season at first base Wednesday night.
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