NEW YORK (AP) It certainly appears that trip to Las Vegas turned Travis d’Arnaud into a much more confident hitter.
The rookie catcher snapped an eighth-inning tie with a two-run double, and the New York Mets overcame an early injury to starter Jonathon Niese, beating the skidding Texas Rangers 6-5 Friday night to stop a four-game slide.
”Felt really good,” d’Arnaud said. ”It’s a big win for us to start the homestand.”
Lucas Duda hit a two-run homer off Yu Darvish, and the Mets opened a 10-game homestand with their second victory in nine games. An angry Niese left in the first with a bruised lower back after he was hit by Alex Rios’ line drive. X-rays were negative, the team said.
Star third baseman David Wright missed his seventh straight game with a sore left shoulder, but fill-in Eric Campbell had three hits and an RBI for New York. Carlos Torres, pressed into long relief when Niese was injured, gave up two runs in 4 2-3 valuable innings.
”Nobody expects stuff like that to happen. It does. This is baseball,” Torres said. ”Whoever they call down for, they step up and go out there and go do their job.”
Shin-Soo Choo hit a leadoff homer, and Adrian Beltre also went deep for the Rangers, who have dropped six in a row and 14 of 16.
Their 10-game losing streak on the road is the club’s longest since a 12-game skid in 2003.
”One day the pitching is really good, and one day the offense isn’t helping,” Choo said. ”Right now, everything bad is coming together at the same time.”
Bobby Abreu drew a leadoff walk from Aaron Poreda (2-1) in the eighth and Campbell singled off Jason Frasor with one out before d’Arnaud sent a drive up the alley in right-center.
Batting .180 when he was sent to Triple-A Las Vegas in early June, d’Arnaud quickly went on a power-hitting tear in the Pacific Coast League. Brought back to the big leagues, he is hitting .303 with six RBIs in nine games since he was recalled.
”I just try to keep my mind at ease and keep everything simple and not overstress myself, and that’s been paying off,” d’Arnaud said.
Jenrry Mejia (5-3) retired Rios with two runners in scoring position to end the eighth. Mejia allowed an RBI single by Adam Rosales in the ninth before retiring pinch-hitter Robinson Chirinos on a tricky popup to finish a plodding game on Fireworks Night that took 4 hours, 8 minutes.
Darvish, pushed back a day because of rain Thursday in Baltimore, entered with dominant stats against NL teams. But he was off in this one, allowing four runs and five hits in five innings.
”He was a little erratic with his command, but I thought he did a good job of righting the ship there in the last three innings,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Choo hit his 13th career leadoff homer, second this season, on Niese’s third pitch.
Moments later, Rios’ drive nailed Niese on the left side of his lower back. He recovered in time to get Rios at first base – the only out he got – before manager Terry Collins, pitching coach Dan Warthen and trainer Ray Ramirez came out to check on the left-hander.
Niese repeatedly told Collins he was fine, but was removed without trying a warmup pitch. Torres was given all the time he needed to get loose.
”It was precaution more than anything,” Collins said.
Niese fired his glove against the dugout wall and knocked over a bucket of bubble gum before disappearing down the tunnel.
The team’s most reliable starter this season, Niese was done after 12 pitches. He has gone 21 straight starts without allowing more than three earned runs – the longest active streak in the majors.
”There’s not much to say other than I’m fine. I didn’t want to be taken out. I just felt like I was cheated there a little bit,” Niese said.
Elvis Andrus had his second consecutive three-hit game for the Rangers. Darvish doubled to the left-center fence for his second hit in 11 major league at-bats – the first for extra bases.
NOTES: Rather than risk a weather-related flight delay, the Rangers bused from Baltimore to New York after Thursday night’s loss. Washington said it took about 3 hours, 15 minutes, and the team arrived around 3:30 a.m. … Mets RHP Dillon Gee (strained right lat) went six innings in a rehab start for Class-A Brooklyn, striking out 10. He threw 75 pitches and gave up one run and three hits. … Before the game, there was a video tribute and a moment of silence for former Mets GM Frank Cashen, the architect of their 1986 championship team. Cashen died Monday, and the Mets are honoring him by wearing a memorial patch with his initials on their sleeves. … Wright hopes to play Saturday.