Two big home runs and a brilliant effort by the bullpen sent the New York Yankees to another comeback victory against their crosstown rivals.
Raul Ibanez tied the game with a three-run homer, pinch-hitter Eric Chavez came through with a go-ahead shot moments later, and the Yankees rallied past the New York Mets 4-3 Saturday night to stop a three-game skid.
”The bullpen came in and did an incredible job,” Ibanez said.
Daniel Murphy, who hasn’t homered all season, nearly won it for the Mets in the ninth inning. With a runner aboard, he hit a drive into the right-field corner that was caught just in front of the fence for the final out.
The homer-happy Yankees had no such shortcomings.
Riding the long ball again, they won for the fourth time in five Subway Series matchups this season. The finale is quite an attraction, too, with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey coming off consecutive one-hitters when he faces Yankees ace CC Sabathia in a much-anticipated duel Sunday night.
”If you haven’t seen this guy, you should tune in,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
The seventh-inning homers by Ibanez and Chavez helped the Yankees overcome a three-run deficit against Chris Young. They also bailed out right-hander Ivan Nova, who left trailing 3-0 in the sixth after winning his previous five starts.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered for the Mets, who had won seven straight interleague games and four in a row overall. He also struck out his last three times up to strand five runners – three in scoring position.
Lucas Duda had a key miscue in right field and then squandered two chances at the plate to get the Mets back in the game. They finished 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on overall before a sellout crowd of 42,122 – the largest in the four-year history of Citi Field.
Nova had seven strikeouts, and five Yankees relievers combined for eight more in 3 1-3 innings of shutout ball. They recorded seven consecutive outs on strikeouts before Murphy’s game-ending fly.
”It’s kind of been a common theme for us this year. They’ve been so good, even in tight games like this,” catcher Russell Martin said. ”They just make pitches and they get us out of jams. So, they’ve saved us more than once this year. Not that we can get used to it, but it’s really nice to have that.”
The 15 strikeouts tied a season high for both teams.
Clay Rapada (2-0) fanned Nieuwenhuis with two on in the sixth, and Boone Logan pitched out of trouble in the seventh. David Robertson worked around a pair of one-out walks in the eighth, fanning Nieuwenhuis to end the inning, and Rafael Soriano got three outs for his 14th save in 15 chances.
Making his fourth major league start since returning from shoulder surgery, Young cruised into the seventh with a 3-0 lead. But it all unraveled in a span of nine pitches.
”A bloop and a blast – they can get to you in a minute,” Collins said. ”Three-nothing against the Yankees isn’t exactly a monumental lead.”
Mark Teixeira, who is 0 for 8 against Young, worked a leadoff walk, and Nick Swisher took a hefty cut that produced only a soft fly to medium right field. Duda, still learning the intricacies of outfield play, broke back on the ball and then charged in. He came up short on a diving attempt, and the ball bounced past him for a double, Swisher’s 1,000th career hit.
”He took a big swing, hit it off the end of the bat. I took a step back, then tried to make a play I really shouldn’t have,” Duda said.
Ibanez lined the next pitch barely over the fence in the right-field corner for his 11th homer, tying the score at 3.
”It happened fast, no question,” Mets catcher Josh Thole said. ”That mistake, it got us.”
That was it for Young, who had an RBI single in the sixth. One out later, Chavez sliced an 0-2 pitch from Jon Rauch (3-7) into the left-field corner for his first career pinch-hit homer and the Yankees’ second of the season.
”He hit a good pitch. He took a panic swing and barreled it,” Rauch said. ”We haven’t made pitches when we need to – I know I haven’t.”
Struggling to hit with runners in scoring position, the Yankees are winning with power. They have 13 home runs against the Mets this season, accounting for 20 of their 26 runs. The Bronx Bombers lead the majors with 110 homers in 70 games, including 32 in the last 18 games.
The Mets had a great chance to tie it in the seventh. But with a runner on third, Logan whiffed Duda on three pitches and made another left-handed hitter, Murphy, look bad on an inning-ending strikeout.
”I just went in there and said, `Screw it, I’m just going to be aggressive,”’ Logan said. ”I enjoyed all of us getting all those strikeouts at the end there. It was cool.”
NOTES: Mets closer Frank Francisco was unavailable because of soreness on his left side. He will be re-evaluated Sunday. … Rauch has lost seven straight decisions, matching the worst skid of his career. … 1B Ike Davis was scratched from the lineup about 90 minutes before the first pitch and was sent home with food poisoning, Collins said. … Martin was pulled in the ninth with a stiff back. He said it’s nothing he’s worried about. … The Yankees and Indians are the only teams that haven’t lost four straight games this season.