NEW YORK -- No dropped popups this time. Just a little Fernandomania and a crisp performance for the New York Mets.
Injury fill-in Fernando Nieve earned his first major league victory in three years, Omir Santos drove in three runs and the Mets rebounded from a heartbreaking loss, beating the Yankees 6-2 Saturday.
Andy Pettitte has pitched just five innings in three of his last four outings. Hitters are becoming much more patient against him and waiting for a fastball to sit on. Prior to May 29, opponents were only hitting .280 against his fastball. That's gone up 80 points in his last four starts.
Opponents' Average vs. Pettitte by Pitch Type
"We just forget about what happened yesterday," Santos said. "It was a tough game but you have to bounce back today and have a good game like this."The Mets lost the Subway Series opener 9-8 Friday night at Yankee Stadium when second baseman Luis Castillo dropped Alex Rodriguez's two-out popup in the ninth, allowing two runs to score.Castillo came back with two hits and was flawless in the field on a soggy day in the Bronx."A big game for us, a big win for us," Castillo said. "We win this game today and we feel better."Gary Sheffield homered for the second straight day against his former team and Santos hit a two-run shot off Andy Pettitte.Rodriguez hit career homer No. 562 and Derek Jeter had an RBI infield single for the Yankees, who have lost four of five. A-Rod is one shy of Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson for 11th place on the all-time list."We did not swing the bats," manager Joe Girardi said. "We had only two hits through six innings and you can't win very many games that way."Nieve (1-0) allowed two runs and four hits over 6 2/3 innings in his first major league start in three years -- highlighting a strong performance by the Mets' three Fernandos. Rookie Fernando Martinez collected a season-high three hits, and Fernando Tatis scored twice and drove in a run.The Mets finished with a season-high with 17 hits and did not commit an error in one of their tightest all-around games of the year."I sensed there was an urgency to play well," manager Jerry Manuel said. "Obviously, the way the game ended last night, we all know to a man how difficult it's been for Luis, and for him to go through it, I think to a man they felt an urgency to play well."Sean Green replaced Nieve with runners on first and third and gave up Jeter's run-scoring hit. Green then got Johnny Damon on a grounder to end the inning and pitched a perfect eighth against the Yankees' 3-4-5 hitters.Francisco Rodriguez finished the day after Castillo's error gave him his first blown save of the season.Nieve provided a timely boost for the injury-depleted Mets, who had lost three consecutive games in dramatic fashion. Philadelphia took two straight at Citi Field with extra-inning homers before Friday night's stunning loss."I didn't feel nervous," Nieve said. "It's baseball. It's my job. I have been doing that for a while, just trying to do the same that I've been doing for years."Nieve was promoted from Triple-A Buffalo when the Mets placed reliever J.J. Putz (elbow surgery) on the disabled list June 5. The 26-year-old right-hander missed most of 2007 because of elbow surgery and made 11 relief appearances for Houston last year.The Mets claimed Nieve off waivers in March and he threw two scoreless innings at Washington last Saturday in his first outing with the team. He picked up his first win since June 25, 2006, for Houston at the Chicago White Sox.Pettitte (6-3) was tagged for five runs and 12 hits in five innings, dropping to 8-5 in 19 regular-season starts against the Mets."Just a poor job by me," he said. "A lot of balls in the strike zone."Santos went deep as Pettitte struggled to catch his breath in the second, and the Mets added three more in the fifth. Sheffield had an RBI single, Tatis drove in a run with a fielder's choice and Santos doubled in Tatis to make it 5-1."Andy just had a bad start, that's all," Girardi said. "It doesn't come at a good time, because right now our bullpen's a little fatigued."Sheffield hit career homer No. 506 off Alfredo Aceves with one out in the seventh.Notes Damon returned to the starting lineup after a doctor told him caffeine could be the cause of his eye trouble and suggested he stay away from coffee and energy drinks for a while to see if that helps. ... Nieve's previous start was June 15, 2006, for Houston at the Chicago Cubs.