PHILADELPHIA — Jordany Valdespin sure knows how to make an entrance.
Just hours after the Mets activated Valdespin last night to replace injured shortstop Ruben Tejada, the rookie infielder took Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon deep in the ninth inning and silenced what remained of a sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park.
“They gave me an opportunity today and everybody saw what happened,” a beer-drenched Valdespin said after his first major league hit, a three-run homer, led the Mets to a wild 5-2 victory over the Phillies. “It’s exciting because I gave a chance for my team to win.”
AIR JORDANY: Jordany Valdespin watches the flight of his pinch-hit, three-run home run in the ninth inning (his first career hit) off Jonathan Papelbon during the Mets’ 5-2 victory over the Phillies last night.
Valdespin entered as a pinch-hitter in the ninth and ripped a 1-0 pitch over the right-field fence after the Mets had received a key double from Mike Nickeas to put runners on second and third moments earlier.
Not only did the Mets (16-13) fend off Roy Halladay, they beat an elite closer in Papelbon, who had made nine straight scoreless appearances before last night. Twenty straight batters had gone hitless against Papelbon until Nickeas’ double.
“Anytime you win a game that Doc [Halladay] started where Papelbon came in for the ninth, that is a great victory,” David Wright said.
But it may have come with a price tag, as catcher Josh Thole was removed from the game with dizziness after getting clobbered by Ty Wigginton’s left shoulder in a collision at the plate in the eighth.
Bobby Parnell put runners on second and third in the eighth before Freddy Galvis hit a comebacker. Parnell threw home to get Wigginton, but Thole was knocked silly in the process. Thole lay motionless for about two minutes before leaving the field on his own, replaced by Nickeas.
The Mets received a beneficial call to help keep the game tied 2-2 in the seventh. With the bases loaded and one out, Hunter Pence hit a grounder to Daniel Murphy for a potential inning-ending double play. But first base umpire Alan Porter ruled Pence beat Justin Turner’s relay. The point was moot: Second-base umpire Ron Kulpa said Shane Victorino, running from first, had left the base line and interfered with Turner’s throw. Three outs, and trouble averted by Parnell.
Wright’s two-run double in the sixth got the Mets on the board. Halladay had been cruising, working on a one-hitter with two outs in the inning, before Andres Torres walked and Kirk Nieuwenhuis singled him to second. Wright then slapped a shot inside the third-base bag, making it 2-2.
“When you face some of the guys that are the best in the game, like [Halladay], like Cliff [Lee], you just can’t roll over,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “You’ve got to battle and you’ve got to scratch and try to put the ball in play and make the most of it. I salute this club. This club doesn’t quit. They play hard from start to finish.”
Mets starter Jon Niese struggled with control and lasted only five innings, in which he allowed two earned runs on four hits and four walks before Manny Acosta, Parnell, Tim Byrdak and Frank Francisco combined for four scoreless innings.
Halladay had to settle for a no-decision after allowing two earned runs on five hits with seven strikeouts and one walk over seven innings. The no-decision ended Halladay’s streak of eight consecutive starts with a victory against the Mets, dating to 2006 when he pitched for the Blue Jays.
“[Halladay] was real dominant tonight,” Wright said. “We were fortunate to get those two runs and get him out of the game.”
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