Tejada atones for earlier troubles with walk-off

Tejada atones for earlier troubles with walk-off

Tejada atones for earlier troubles with walk-off
NEW YORK -- The Marlins had given Ruben Tejada a tough time on Sunday afternoon, so it was only fitting that he was the hero by the time it was all over.

The Mets capped off their three-game sweep of the Marlins on Sunday with a walk-off, 3-2 win -- courtesy of Tejada's bases-loaded single in the ninth -- in front of 26,923 in Flushing.

With the game knotted at 2, the Mets had their best chance to regain the lead in the seventh, when Andres Torres popped a one-out double to right field that Greg Dobbs lost in the sun. But Kelly Shoppach followed with a strikeout and, after Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco intentionally walked pinch-hitter Mike Baxter to get to Tejada, the shortstop flied out to right to end the inning.

It killed the rally and, a half-inning later, he started one for the Marlins with a throw to first that sailed well over the head of Mets first baseman Ike Davis. New York's bullpen ultimately escaped the jam, but before Tejada came up with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, a teammate of his had a little bit of advice.

"With a young player, sometimes we all have a tendency to bring our last at-bat up there with us," David Wright said. "You want to make sure that their head [is] clear and they're not taking that baggage from earlier in the game. ... I just wanted to make sure he went up there with a clear head, and he did a heck of a job."

The walk-off win was the Mets' sixth of the season, and the sweep provided some much-needed relief after New York had lost nine in a row at Citi Field entering the series. The three-game winning streak is the longest at Citi Field since New York won four straight home games from June 18-22.

"It's really important for me and for the team," Tejada said. "Everyone wants to finish strong and have the team finish strong. So you've got to keep your head up and push hard every day."

New York plated two runs in the first inning off Nolasco with a one-out double by Daniel Murphy and an ensuing two-run homer by Wright. But that was all they could muster against the Marlins righty for the rest of the afternoon. Three times the Mets had at least one runner in scoring position with less than two outs, but failed to capitalize.

"Ricky pitched well. Pitched very well," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "One bad pitch, a home run. But after that pitch, he pitched a good game."

Starter Chris Young was solid for the Mets over six innings, but allowed back-to-back singles by Rob Brantly and Gil Velazquez to open the fifth, before the Marlins would work to tie it. Nolasco sacrificed the runners over and Bryan Petersen followed with a sac fly to deep center. Gorkys Hernandez -- after working a walk in the next at-bat -- stole second base, as catcher Kelly Shoppach's throw sailed into center field, which allowed Velazquez to score the second run.

It was a rough inning in what was otherwise a good start for the right-hander, who in his first season back from elbow surgery continues to impress every time he takes the mound.

"Chris has really been amazing," manager Terry Collins said. "I can't say enough about what kind of a guy [he is], and how hard he's had to work. He's eight months behind Johan [Santana], and pitching with the condition of his arm, he keeps himself in tremendous shape and just knows what he's doing on the mound."

As tough as the second half has been for the Mets, they have routinely found success against the Marlins -- with this three-game sweep being the second over Miami in less than a month. But regardless of the opponent, any positive momentum the team can take into the offseason is a solid step forward.

"It'll be nice to finish on a strong note," Wright said. "You look, for example, at what the Orioles did. They finished strong last year, and it kind of carried over into this year. So it'll be nice to do that."

Adam Rosenbloom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.