Nieuwenhuis Jacks 2 HRs As Mets Sweep Rays
Kirk Nieuwenhuis led off the game with a home run and added a go-ahead two run shot in the fourth inning as the Mets held on for a 9-6 win Wednesday afternoon at Tropicana Field, completing a three game sweep of the Rays.
Johan Santana (4-3) earned the victory making his way through a shaky five-plus innings of four runs on six hits and four walks. Santana left with an 8-4 lead in the sixth, after loading the bases with no outs. Jon Rauch came in and struck out the next two Tampa hitters, then induced an inning ending ground out.
Jason Bay gave the Mets an early 2-0 lead with a solo-homer in the second inning of the Rays' Jeremy Hellickson (4-3), who gave up eight runs on nine hits over 3 2/3 innings.
Santana surrendered the leads in the next half inning on a two-run double from Matt Joyce and an RBI single from Elliot Johnson.
Lucas Duda and Ike Davis had RBIs in the third to put New York back on top 4-3 before Ben Zobrist's RBI double in the bottom half tied the score 4-4.
But Nieuwenhuis' second blast of the afternoon made it 6-4 and Duda added a two-run double off the center field wall to put the Mets ahead 8-4.
Davis followed with his second RBI single for the ninth run.
Frank Francisco was called in in the ninth the Rays tried to rally, scoring a run off of Miguel Batista.
With one out and runners at the corners, Carlos Pena grounded to shortstop Omar Quintanilla who was playing the shift and was positioned as if he were playing second base. Desmond Jennings beat Quintanilla to second base as a run scored, making it 9-6 with runners on first and second and one out.
Francisco struck out B.J. Upton, walked Hideki Matsui to load the bases, then froze Ben Zobrist for a game ending K to earn his 16th save.
The Mets (34-25) open a series at Citi Field with the Reds on Friday night.