Challenged by fed-up manager Terry Collins, slumping infielders Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada sparked a five-run first inning that kept the New York Mets sailing along in this surprising Subway Series with a 9-4 victory over the Yankees on Wednesday night.
Tejada hit a leadoff single, Davis drove in two runs and the Mets won with Jeremy Hefner on the mound for the first time all season. They've taken three in a row from their crosstown rivals for their first four-game winning streak of the year and will go for a Big Apple whitewash in the series finale at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night.
Yankees starter David Phelps (3-3) got only one out — and perhaps he wasn't completely healthy. The right-hander, who had unusual trouble with his command, left his previous outing after he was hit on the right forearm by a line drive.
The last Yankees starter who failed to get more than one out in a game was Darrell Rasner on May 19, 2007, also against the Mets, according to STATS.
The suddenly slumping Yankees dropped their fourth in a row. Despite a rash of injuries to star players, they began the night a game behind first-place Boston in the AL East.
After rallying two nights in a row back home at Citi Field for a pair of tense, 2-1 wins, the fourth-place Mets made this one a virtual laugher right off the bat by building an 8-0 lead. But they still had their confounding moments — Tejada had another mental lapse at shortstop that helped the Yankees score twice in the sixth.
That brought Collins, looking more than a little irritated, to the top step of the dugout. He stared out at the field in Tejada's direction and then jotted something down on a piece of paper.
Tejada limped off the field with an apparent injury with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. He appeared to get hurt chasing a foul fly down the left-field line.
Without divulging details, Collins acknowledged before the game that he met Tuesday night with Davis and Tejada and told them in no uncertain terms it was time to snap out of it and start producing — right now.
WFAN radio reported both players were informed they were on the edge of being demoted to the minors.
In the first inning, they responded.
Tejada snapped an 0-for-12 skid and scored from first on Daniel Murphy's double to deep right-center — finally a drive off his bat that Brett Gardner couldn't chase down — and the Mets were ahead 1-0 after three pitches.
Gardner robbed Murphy of extra bases with two spectacular catches the previous two nights.
John Buck beat the defensive shift with an RBI single to right and the Mets scored again when third baseman Jayson Nix bobbled Marlon Byrd's RBI grounder for an error.
Davis was batting .152 when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. He worked an 0-2 count full and lashed a sharp single past shortstop to make it 5-0.
Davis later hit a line-drive single to center, another encouraging sign. He began the night 4 for 53 with 24 strikeouts in his past 16 games — and hitless since a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning to beat Atlanta on Sunday night.
Hefner (1-5) gave up three runs and nine hits, including Brennan Boesch's solo homer, over six innings in his second start since his Oklahoma hometown was ravaged by a tornado last week. The Mets lost all nine of his previous starts this season — and even when he made his lone relief appearance.
Marlon Byrd homered and Lucas Duda, who had the game-winning hit off Mariano Rivera on Tuesday night, added a two-run double for the Mets, who scored their most runs since a 16-5 win April 12 in Minnesota.