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Walker sparks Mets, sinks Rox with big HR

July 31, 2016

NEW YORK -- A Mets team seeking some sort of spark, any sort of spark, was floundering again on a drizzly Sunday at Citi Field, seven outs away from a dispiriting series sweep at the hands of the National League's surprising new contender.Then came the jolt. Neil Walker launched a

NEW YORK -- A Mets team seeking some sort of spark, any sort of spark, was floundering again on a drizzly Sunday at Citi Field, seven outs away from a dispiriting series sweep at the hands of the National League's surprising new contender.
Then came the jolt. Neil Walker launched a go-ahead three-run homer off Boone Logan in the seventh inning, leading the Mets to a 6-4 win over the Rockies to snap their four-game losing streak, bust Colorado's five-game winning run and avoid a sweep at home.
"You never like to be staring at the barrel of a possible four-game sweep at home, under any circumstances," Walker said. "Our pitchers have been throwing the ball pretty well, and obviously we haven't been great in certain situations offensively. We know that if we keep giving ourselves opportunities, we're going to come through."
A pair of walks proved to be Logan's undoing in the seventh, allowing Walker to bat with two men on base and two outs. The Rockies had taken their first lead in the top of the inning on Carlos González's sacrifice fly.
Starting pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Chad Bettis, who used to train together during offseasons in Texas, each went six innings and allowed three runs. The Mets never held more than a two-run lead over the Rockies, who drove up Syndergaard's pitch count early -- Charlie Blackmon opened the game with an 11-pitch at-bat -- before tying things on Gonzalez's RBI double in the fifth.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss, whose team completed a 5-2 road trip against the Orioles and the Mets and has won nine of its past 11, said, "Our confidence is certainly as high as it's been all year."
After strong road trip, Rox open crucial homestand
Both teams now look ahead to Monday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Mets in particular are seeking both a power bat and a reliever to help keep them afloat in the NL Wild Card race. The Rockies, also battling in the NL Wild Card race with a young Major League roster but also prospects they believe in for the future, have made little noise about making deals but anything can happen.
"We feel close to each other, so I don't there will be any changes," said Gonzalez, who has a 13-game hit streak. "We're playing good ball, so that makes it easier for the club to continue to put confidence in this club and in each player in this room."
Walker lifts off: All was quiet in the seventh at Citi, even as the Mets mustered a modest rally with two runners on base and two outs against Logan. Then Walker blasted an 0-1 fastball over the left-field wall, becoming the first hitter to take Logan deep since June 9, 2015, 45 2/3 innings ago. The crowd erupted as Walker's shot transformed a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 lead.

"I was able to get a fastball in the zone, and find some space," Walker said. "We've just got to keep giving ourselves opportunities. That's all we can do."
Pick your poison: With two aboard and no outs in the seventh, Blackmon bunted both runners into scoring position, giving the Mets a choice of how to proceed. They opted to intentionally walk DJ LeMahieu, loading the bases for Gonzalez, who skied a sacrifice fly easily deep enough to score Tony Wolters with the go-ahead run.

Lockdown 'pen: Walker's heroics would have mattered little if the Mets were unable to shut down the Rockies from there. Setup man Addison Reed did his part, striking out three in the eighth to match the Mets' franchise record with his 26th hold. Reed then gave way to closer Jeurys Familia, who snapped a string of two consecutive blown saves.
"For me, it's very important," Familia said. "It's important for the team, too, to win the game." More >

Hanging in: Bettis gave up a run in each of the first three innings, but gained his form when he fanned René Rivera to end the third with two on base. The strikeout began a run of 10 straight batters Bettis retired before departing. Bettis relished matching up with Syndergaard.

"That guy works really hard, and he's a good pitcher," Bettis said. "So it was fun to pitch against him. I wish it would've gone the other way."
When the bone spur in Syndergaard's elbow became public knowledge last month, he was 8-2 with a 2.08 ERA. Syndergaard has since gone 1-3 with a 3.62 mark.

The Mets' first run came at a price. Slipping as he rounded third base on Walker's first-inning RBI triple, Asdrúbal Cabrera collapsed to the ground after scoring. He needed help exiting the field; the Mets later diagnosed him with a strained patella tendon in his left knee. He is scheduled to see a doctor Monday for a more thorough examination. More >

The Rockies successfully challenged a call at second base in the fourth, resulting in a stolen base for Daniel Descalso to keep the Mets on the field. But Colorado did not score again in the inning.

An inning later, Weiss again challenged that Gonzalez slid home safely ahead of Rivera's tag on a potential run-scoring wild pitch. But umpires did not rule in his favor.
"I was definitely safe," Gonzalez said. "I don't know what they were looking at. There was no tag on the hand. My hand got in first and he tagged me on the forearm. That would've been the go-ahead run that inning."

Rockies: After joining the playoff race with a 5-2 road trip, the Rockies hope to improve on a 25-24 home record when they face the Dodgers on Tuesday at 6:40 p.m. MT to open a three-game series and an eight-game, eight-day homestand. The Rockies will start rookie righty Jon Gray (7-4, 3.94 ERA), who has 13 quality starts in 19 outings.
Mets: A four-game, home-and-home Subway Series begins Monday, when the Mets host the Yankees for the first of two games at Citi Field at 7:10 p.m. ET. The Mets will start right-hander Logan Verrett opposite veteran lefty CC Sabathia.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**.