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Blanco's homer wins it for Mets in 11th

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NEW YORK

The New York Mets had a jumbled mess behind the plate when they reported to spring training this year.

Their catching situation is definitely settled now.

Henry Blanco hit a leadoff homer in the 11th inning, New York's second game-ending drive by a catcher in less than a day, and the Mets beat the San Francisco Giants 5-4 on Saturday for their ninth straight home win.

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It was the first time New York had won consecutive games on game-ending homers since Robin Ventura and Mike Piazza did it July 28-29, 2001, against Philadelphia, according to STATS LLC. Rod Barajas connected in the ninth inning Friday night to give New York a 6-4 victory.

``That was exciting to see Henry come up and hit that home run,'' manager Jerry Manuel said. ``We swung the bats well the last couple of innings but I was wondering where we were going to get some runs.''

They got it from an unlikely source.

Blanco drove a 1-0 pitch from former Mets reliever Guillermo Mota (0-1) just over the wall in left for his first homer of the season and the first game-ending drive of his career. Blanco finished with three hits and is batting .429 (9 for 21) in his last seven starts.

``It was a fastball pretty much right down the middle but I never thought it was going to go out,'' Blanco said, ``so I just keep running hard and see if I can make a triple. But I guess it went out.''

The Mets tried to sign Bengie Molina over the winter but the free-agent catcher decided to go back to the Giants. Blanco agreed to a one-year deal in December and Barajas didn't join the team until Feb. 24.

Now, Barajas leads the team with nine homers and both backstops have done a solid job offensively and defensively.

``I like the guys that we have,'' Manuel said with a smile.

Jason Bay and Angel Pagan had two RBIs apiece for the Mets, who haven't lost at Citi Field since a 9-3 setback against the Chicago Cubs on April 21. Hisanori Takahashi (3-1) pitched a perfect 11th for the victory.

New York (17-13) has won three of four overall and leads the majors with 13 home wins.

Aubrey Huff drove in two runs for San Francisco, which lost cleanup hitter Molina to a tight left hamstring in the third. Slumping slugger Pablo Sandoval singled in the fourth to end an 0-for-15 slide and hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

``They just got enough of that one there,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. ``We have a lost a few that way, with the long ball late.''

Huff's long drive to right with two on in the 10th died in the wind, which dumped all kinds of trash on the field, and was caught by Jeff Francoeur on the warning track.

``This place makes our park look like a band box,'' Huff said. ``It's a tough environment to play in. A lot of wind, a lot of trash. This is a frustrating place when the wind is blowing.''

Mets ace Johan Santana bounced back from the worst start of his career, pitching into the eighth inning. He lasted just 3 2-3 innings in an embarrassing loss at Philadelphia last Sunday.

Santana was replaced after Sandoval's fly ball to left cut New York's lead to 4-3, but the bullpen couldn't preserve the victory. Huff hit a tying RBI single off Pedro Feliciano.

Santana tried a subtle tweak to his motion, dropping his glove down to help relax his shoulders and prevent the tipping of pitches. He allowed four runs and eight hits, struck out six and walked none.
Baseball Hot Streak

``The last outing prior to this one, it was bad,'' he said. ``I was just waiting for today to go back out there and help my team.''

Todd Wellemeyer allowed four runs and three hits over 4 1-3 innings for San Francisco in his first start since April 27. He tossed three scoreless innings in a relief appearance against Colorado last Sunday.

Molina was replaced by Whiteside before the Mets batted in the bottom of the third. He led off the second with a single off the left-field wall, raising his batting average to .333.

``I guess it's just one too many bruises. It got kind of tight,'' he said. ``I was just trying to play it smart. As it feels right now I could probably play tomorrow.''

The Mets' Luis Castillo also departed with a bruised left heel and is day to day. Manuel said it's been bothering him for a while and he was removed as a precaution. The second baseman is expected to rest during Sunday's series finale.

NOTES: Barajas' left hand was swollen and sore hours after he was struck by Whiteside, who swung at a pitchout that wasn't outside enough. Barajas said he told Manuel he was OK, but the manager decided to give him the day off. ... Giants RHP Sergio Romo, who gave up Barajas' homer Friday night, is 0-2 with a 12.46 ERA and a blown save in his last five appearances, including three in four days before Saturday's game. ``We may have to back him off a little bit,'' Bochy said.

Tagged: Mets, Giants, Henry Blanco, Johan Santana, Rod Barajas, Aubrey Huff, Eli Whiteside, Angel Pagan

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