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Tejada's game-winning hit helps Mets finish off sweep

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK - One swing of the bat turned Ruben Tejada's miserable day into a happy one and provided him and the Mets a rare highlight in a sour second half of the season.

Tejada's bases-loaded, two-out single in the bottom of the ninth inning brought home Scott Hairston and gave the Mets a 3-2 win over the Miami Marlins in front of an announced crowd of 26,923 at Citi Field Sunday afternoon.

The Mets (69-83) completed their first sweep of a series at home since June 18-20 against the Orioles and moved 3 1/2 games ahead of the Marlins in the race to avoid last place in the NL East.

"Nobody's more disappointed than the 25 or 30 guys in that clubhouse [and] the coaching staff, what's happened in the second half, especially at home - we can't explain it," said Mets manager Terry Collins, whose team is 23-43 since the All-Star Game and just 7-24 at home. "This helps."

The game-winning single was especially satisfying for Tejada, who was hitless in his first four at-bats and committed a throwing error in the eighth inning.

"That was certainly very uncharacteristic; he's got some of the best hands and the most accurate throwing arm I've seen in a long time," Collins said. "So to have him make that error, I know that he wanted to certainly do something to change that. And he did."

In addition, the Marlins intentionally walked a pinch-hitter in order to face Tejada in both the seventh and ninth. Tejada flew out to end the seventh but delivered to cap a piecemeal ninth-inning rally by the offensively deficient Mets, who scored three runs or less for the 41st time since the All-Star Break.

Hairston singled leading off the ninth against Ryan Webb (4-3) and went to second on a one-out passed ball. Andres Torres walked and Hairston advanced to third when Jordany Valdespin beat out a potential double-play ball to short. After pinch-hitter Fred Lewis was intentionally walked to load the bases, Tejada laced a clean single to left.

Tejada has slumped along with the rest of the Mets in the second half, during which he's hitting just .263 - down from .325 prior to the All-Star Break. Collins said recently he wants to see Tejada, 22, grind through a full season for the first time.

"For me and for the team, everybody wants to finish strong," Tejada said. "So we have to keep our head up and play hard every day."

Bobby Parnell (5-4) earned the win for the Mets with a perfect ninth.

The Marlins (66-87) lost for the sixth time in seven games and fell to the Mets for the seventh straight time dating back to Aug. 9. Donovan Solano was 2-for-4 for the Marlins in his third multi-hit game of the series.

"Very tough - we want to win, we want to get better, we don't want to be in last place," Solano said. "It's hard for everyone."

The Mets started off fast against Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco as Daniel Murphy doubled with one out in the first and David Wright followed with a two-run homer. But the Mets didn't get another runner as far as second base until the seventh, when Torres was credited with a double on a ball right fielder Greg Dobbs lost in the sun.

The Marlins stranded runners in scoring position in the second and fourth before finally tying the score in the fifth. Rob Brantly and Gil Velazquez opened the inning with singles. Brantly scored on a sacrifice fly by Bryan Petersen and Velazquez raced home when Mets catcher Kelly Shoppach overthrew second base on a stolen base by Gorkys Hernandez.

Chris Young allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out six in six innings for the Mets. The no-decision left him winless in nine career starts for the Mets at Citi Field.

Nolasco lasted seven innings for the Marlins and allowed two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out five. He has a 1.46 ERA in his last five starts.

NOTES: Mets closer Frank Francisco has been shut down for a few days due to a sore elbow. Francisco, who last pitched on Sept. 16, warmed up during Friday's game and woke up sore Saturday morning. Collins said he hopes Francisco can pitch again this season. Jon Rauch, who earned the save in the Mets' 4-3 win Saturday, will get save chances in Francisco's absence. ... Wright's homer in the first inning was the 1,415th hit of his career, leaving him three shy of tying Ed Kranepool's franchise record. ... The three-game winning streak is just the third time since the All-Star Break the Mets have won three in a row. ... Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton missed his sixth straight game with a sore left intercostal muscle. ... Marlins first baseman Carlos Lee, who went 0-for-4, is one homer away from recording at least 10 homers and 25 doubles for the 14th straight season. He would become one of just five players to reach those marks in at least 14 straight seasons. Stan Musial had a streak of 16 straight seasons, Derek Jeter had 15 and Jeff Bagwell and Manny Ramirez each did it 14 straight times.

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