- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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New York Mets rookie center fielder Jason Pridie’s father will eventually receive one heck of a belated Easter present: Pridie's first major league home-run ball.
With two runners on and two out in the bottom of the third inning, Pridie took Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Armando Galarraga deep for a three-run shot -- his first-ever big-league blast. The shot allowed the Mets to take a 6-0 lead. They went on to win 8-4 on Sunday afternoon in front of 22,232 at Citi Field.
“It’s what I’ve been waiting for, for a couple years now,” said Pridie, who was called up from Triple-A Buffalo on April 22, after Angel Pagan was placed on the disabled list. “It was a dream ever since I was young to get to the big leagues and try to produce when it matters -- not just because it’s September and the games don’t mean anything.
“It’s indescribable. I knew I hit it well, but in this park there’s very few ‘for sure’ home runs. I knew I got it, but I had to run out of the box hard. I was trying to hold back a smile as I was rounding the bases.”
The 27-year-old Pridie, who was known more for his defensive prowess, came in with just 79 career minor league homers in 3,689 at-bats. But that wasn’t in the back of his mind on Sunday afternoon as he drilled Galarraga’s hanging 2-1 slider into the Mets’ bullpen out in right-center field.
“It’s huge for him I’m sure,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “We know about his defense. But I thought the home run was a huge hit for him. It makes him realize all he’s gotta do is put good swings on the ball and a lot of things can happen.”
They certainly did. And even better, he didn’t have to worry about compensating a fan to retrieve it.
Nope. This one is going to his dad.
“He has the ball from my first MLB hit, too,” said Pridie, who notched that hit -- a looping single into right -- on Saturday.
A second-round pick in the 2002 draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, Pridie had bounced around in the minors for a while. He finally appeared in 11 games with the Minnesota Twins from 2008-09, but hadn’t gotten a hit until the promotion with the Mets.
And now, he has his first homer as well.
“It’s a great feeling to get there and put one out,” Pridie said.
Collins said that Pridie will probably get one of the next few days on the road trip off. Collins noted he’d like to get Willie Harris some at-bats. He’d also like to get Scott Hairston in the lineup, but Hairston has a sore back -- the result of him hitting the wall trying to make a catch earlier in the week. Hairston will continue to rest until he is at full strength.
New York Mets
• Left-hander Jon Niese notched his first victory since Sept. 5, 2010, tied his season-high by going seven innings and allowed three earned runs.
So what was the key to his solid outing? According to Collins: pace.
“I thought he pitched very good. He used his pitches. He didn’t try to overthrow,” Collins said of Niese, who snapped a personal six-game losing streak dating to Sept. 12, 2010. “He took a little off a times. He needs to stay on his pace, not speed it up, and that made a big difference. I thought he was very effective.
“Earlier we had talked about making sure when things are tough to get the ball and get back on the mound. Go one pitch at a time. He kept himself out of big innings today.”
Niese, who improved to 1-3 with a 5.10 ERA, said he thought his changeup was the key to success.
“I threw it a lot more. I felt a lot more comfortable with it,” said Niese, who noted that he changed his grip on the pitch, putting more pressure on his index finger than before. “I had really good fastball command and I had good command of my secondary pitches.”
Niese downplayed what Collins said about “pace,” but did say he was in a very good rhythm all afternoon.
“It was just one of those days,” Niese said. “I felt way more comfortable out there than my last start [six innings, two runs, season-high five walks].”
Niese, who scattered six hits, walked two and struck out three. He threw 64 of his 95 pitches for strikes. He retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced.
Niese has now pitched six or more innings in four of his five starts this season.
• It looked like the Mets had hit rock bottom on Wednesday after they fell to an MLB-worst 5-13 overall. But since then they haven’t lost, reeling off a season-high four consecutive victories.
In those last four games, they’ve outscored their opponents 27-10.
“I think the brightest sign has been our starting pitching,” said Collins, whose starters have gone at least six innings the last six games -- a season-high for that streak. “It’s gotten us where we want to get to. And you see a difference in the bullpen.”
Although reliever D.J. Carrasco, who was optioned to the minors after the game, gave up a run in the eighth inning, the Mets’ pen has allowed just that lone run in its last five games, spanning 10 innings.
“We’ll go as far as our starting pitching carries us,” third baseman David Wright said.
The Mets’ four-game winning streak is the club’s longest since winning four straight games from Sept 13-16, 2010.
New York Mets
• First baseman Ike Davis hit .381 (8-for-21) with three home runs, two doubles and six RBIs during the Mets’ six-game home stand. The Mets went 4-2 at Citi Field for the week, and have now won four straight games there following a 1-8 start -- the worst home opening in franchise history.
• The Mets hit three home runs Sunday. The Mets have now hit at least one home run in six straight games, the longest such stretch since a similar six-game streak from Sept. 17-24, 2010.
Sunday marked the eighth time the Mets have hit three or more home runs at Citi Field since the ballpark opened in 2009. The team record is four home runs, done twice in 2010. The Mets hit three home runs earlier in this home stand -- on April 21 against the Houston Astros.
The Mets' three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks was their first sweep of the season. The Mets hadn’t swept the Diamondbacks at home in a three-game series since May 19-21, 2000.
• Collins mentioned the importance of two-out runs. The Mets plated five of those on Sunday, after amassing six on Saturday. They entered Sunday afternoon’s game tied for 10th in the majors with 36 two-out runs.
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