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Thursday, July 21, 2011
Thole delivers too; squeeze surprised Mets

By Adam Rubin

Josh Thole is a .500 hitter since fatherhood. Thole, whose wife Kathryn gave birth to the couple’s first child -- son Camden -- on Tuesday night, delivered in the clutch upon returning to the lineup.

Thole began to lift the Mets out of a four-run deficit with an RBI double in the third. He did leave a pair of teammates on base an inning later with a fielder’s choice grounder, but he came up big again in the eighth. Thole pulled the Mets even at 5 with a two-out single that scored Angel Pagan.

“It feels good,” Thole said. “I got a different perspective yesterday of really what my job entails -- being with my wife all day, watching her go through all of the pains and ups and downs for eight hours. Going out there catching a knuckleball is still tough, but it doesn’t seem like anything she went through. It was nice to get a big hit by the same token.”

• A half-inning before Thole’s eighth-inning RBI single, Gerald Laird’s two-out squeeze bunt with runners on the corners plated Matt Holliday as St. Louis took a 5-4  lead. Daniel Murphy acknowledged the play caught him off guard, even though Laird is a proficient bunter.

“He got me,” Murphy said. “We know that he every now and then likes to bunt. I was playing as deep as I could, trying to keep the ball in the infield. … He made a good bunt too. I think it would have taken a helluva play to get him anyway.”

Said Terry Collins: “We tried to have Murphy come in and try to get the runner back a little bit because we know that he’s had a history of some bunts. But he’s only bunted once this year, so yeah, he caught us off guard.”

R.A. Dickey received a no-decision after being charged with four runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. Dickey has allowed four runs apiece in consecutive starts to open the second half, although he has pitched at least into the seventh inning each time.

“I’ve had a tough time this year,” Dickey said. “I don’t know how many innings I’ve given up two or three runs. I don’t remember many last year.”