NEW YORK (AP) Starling Marte ended a long power drought at the perfect time, hitting a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning that sent the resurgent New York Mets past the Cleveland Guardians 5-4 on Sunday in the opener of a split doubleheader.
Max Scherzer pitched six shutout innings despite a callus on his right thumb and Brandon Nimmo also homered for the Mets, who won their fourth straight. Marte’s first three-hit game of the season included a two-run shot to right field for his first extra-base hit since April 14 in Oakland.
“This has been, really, a battle for the last couple weeks,” Marte said through an interpreter. “We’ve been working a lot in the cage. Day in and day out, we’re starting to get closer to where we want to be.”
Marte’s only other long ball this year came in the home opener April 7 against Miami. The two-time All-Star also stole a base and cut down Josh Bell at second with a rocket throw from right field.
The 34-year-old Marte began the day batting .231. He had groin surgery in the offseason and was hampered earlier this season by a stiff neck.
“He works hard, he’s got a track record and he’s healthy,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “What else would you do but trust that type of guy? It’s hard as we get older and sometimes the water takes a little longer to warm up. So I try to keep that in mind.”
Cleveland scored four times in the eighth, taking a 4-3 lead on José Ramírez’s two-run homer off David Robertson (2-0).
Trevor Stephan (2-2) opened the bottom half by walking Brett Baty, and then Marte homered to the opposite field. With Pete Alonso waving a towel on the top step of the dugout, Marte emerged and doffed his cap for a brief curtain call.
It was the latest dramatic win for the Mets (24-23), who have come from behind each time to win four consecutive one-run games following a 6-16 slide.
“That’s what makes it fun - everybody’s jacked up because of the way we’ve been winning,” Scherzer said.
The home run by Marte was the 23rd allowed this season by a Guardians reliever. Cleveland’s bullpen gave up 53 homers last year.
“It’s frustrating as a team,” Stephan said. “Seems like the offense gets going and the bullpen has a tough game. But it’s a long season. We’re fighting, we’re going to be all right.”
The Guardians (20-25) got only three hits before the eighth, when Myles Straw had an RBI groundout and Amed Rosario delivered a run-scoring bloop single before Ramírez’s go-ahead homer to center field.
“Because we kept playing, we gave ourselves a chance,” manager Terry Francona said.
After a rainout Saturday, Eduardo Escobar produced the first run with an RBI single in the fourth, snapping a franchise-record streak of 13 straight games in which the Mets’ opponent scored first.
Gary Sánchez, making his Mets debut, delivered a sacrifice fly in the sixth and Nimmo snapped a 3-for-27 slump with a long leadoff homer in the seventh.
Scherzer struck out five. Guardians rookie Tanner Bibee gave up two runs in six innings.
The Mets brought back LHP Josh Walker from Triple-A Syracuse to serve as their 27th man for the doubleheader, while the Guardians added C Bo Naylor, the younger brother of 1B/DH Josh Naylor.
Scherzer (204 wins) and Justin Verlander (245 wins) entered Sunday with 449 career wins - the most for a team’s starting pitchers in a doubleheader, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, since Nolan Ryan (300 wins) and Charlie Hough (184 wins) had 484 prior to Texas’ doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 17, 1990.
Guardians: C Cam Gallagher (right thumb) sat out the opener. Gallagher was hit on the thumb by a foul tip in the 10th inning Friday night. … RHP Triston McKenzie (teres major strain) allowed two hits over three scoreless innings in his first rehab start Saturday for Triple-A Columbus. Francona said McKenzie and RHP Aaron Civale (left oblique), who began his rehab stint at Columbus on Thursday, will pitch every fifth day for the Clippers.
Mets: Scherzer said the callus began bothering him in his previous start, but he should be healed for his next scheduled outing. He said the pain contributed to his low-90s (mph) fastball velocity and forced him to rely more on his curveball and changeup. “I’d rather pitch in pain and win than not pitch at all,” Scherzer said. … C Tomás Nido (dry eye syndrome) went 0 for 4 as the DH for Class A St. Lucie in his second rehab game Saturday. Nido was limited to DH duties after being hit by a pitch Friday night. … C Omar Narváez (left calf strain) is expected to begin a rehab assignment this week. Narváez is on the 60-day IL with an injury sustained April 5. … LHP José Quintana (left rib fracture) threw his first bullpen Saturday since undergoing surgery in March.
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