The New York Mets needed length out of fifth starter Chris Capuano -- and he gave it to them.
In his first start of the season, the southpaw Capuano went six innings -- or five fewer than R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese and Mike Pelfrey combined in the last three games -- allowing four runs on seven hits while striking out eight and walking one.
“You try to at least keep your team in the game through the sixth or seventh and just give them a chance,” said Capuano, who hadn’t made an April start since 2007. “As a starter we’re all trying to go as long as we can.”
The eight strikeouts were Capuano’s most since Aug. 18, 2007 when he was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. Capuano finished 5-12 with a 5.10 earned-run average that season, but missed the next two years after undergoing Tommy John Surgery.
Capuano was named the Mets’ final starter after spring training, but pitched out of the bullpen in the first week of the season. He struggled in his lone appearance out of the pen, giving up a run on three hits in just 2/3 of an inning on Apr. 3.
On Saturday, Capuano got out of a bases-loaded jam in the third by striking out Wilson Ramos and getting Rick Ankiel pop out to shallow left field.
Terry Collins called it the turning point of the game.
“It helps your confidence when you work out of jams like that early in the year,” Capuano said. “It’s big when you can get that through them.”
He also allowed two home runs – a three-run shot to Danny Espinosa and a solo homer to Ian Desmond.
“It’s frustrating when you give up a home run, especially a three-run homer,” Capuano said. “I felt like I worked hard to get ahead in the count and just didn’t put the guys away, so it’s something I’m going to be working on is those put-away pitches when I get ahead.”
DAVIS GETS IT DONE: First baseman Ike Davis picked the perfect time to collect his second career triple.
With the Mets trailing 4-3 and one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, Davis raked a three-bagger into the right-center field gap, plating David Wright and Carlos Beltran and giving his team a 5-4 lead they’d never relinquish.
“I just wanted to stay in the middle of the field,” said Davis, whose only other triple came on Aug. 25, 2010.
Davis, who finished 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs batted in, has now collected an RBI in seven of his last eight games.
Davis also was called out for interference running from second and third in the eighth after he made contact with Desmond.
COMING THROUGH: The Mets had been one for their last 17 with runners in scoring position, but came through in that department on Saturday night.
Mets hitters combined to go 4-for-14 with RISP, looking much like the team that had hit .288 (17-for-59) in those situations prior to Thursday.
The Mets went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Friday. They squandered six chances with a man on second or third and less than two out.
REYES ROLLS: Jose Reyes drew his first walk of the season in the first inning. The Mets shortstop wound up stealing second base -- his third swipe of the season -- before scoring on Carlos Beltran’s two-run homer to left, which put the Mets up 2-0.
In fact, Beltran’s homer was the Mets’ first hit in 12 opportunities with RISP in their series with Washington.
Reyes later delivered with a two-out, two-run double in the eighth, giving the Mets a healthy 8-4 lead.
PAULINO LIKELY TO DL: Ronny Paulino will need to be placed on the disabled list Saturday, after completing a 50-game MLB suspension for a performance-enhancing substance. Paulino was cleared Thursday to begin working out following a blood issue related to anemia. Collins said Paulino will hit with Jason Bay on Sunday.
In case you’re wondering, the Mets have been out-grandslammed, 17-0 since August 2009.