Published June 24, 2012
NEW YORK – Whiff!
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Lucas Duda and the New York Mets had a hard enough time making contact against their crosstown rivals on Saturday night — let alone coming through with a big hit.
Raul Ibanez tied the game with a three-run homer, pinch-hitter Eric Chavez delivered a go-ahead shot moments later, and the New York Yankees rallied past the Mets 4-3 to stop a three-game skid.
The Mets struck out 15 times against Ivan Nova and five Yankees relievers, finishing 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position.
"Boone Logan, Ivan Nova, Rafael Soriano — they are good pitchers," Duda said.
Daniel Murphy, who hasn't homered all season, nearly won it for the Mets in the ninth inning. With a runner aboard, he hit a drive into the right-field corner that was caught just in front of the fence for the final out.
The homer-happy Yankees had no such shortcomings.
Riding the long ball again, they won for the fourth time in five Subway Series matchups this season. The finale is quite an attraction, too, with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey coming off consecutive one-hitters when he faces Yankees ace CC Sabathia in a much-anticipated duel Sunday night.
"If you haven't seen this guy, you should tune in," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
The seventh-inning homers by Ibanez and Chavez helped the Yankees overcome a three-run deficit against Chris Young. They also bailed out Nova, who left trailing 3-0 in the sixth after winning his previous five starts.
Nieuwenhuis homered for the Mets, who had won seven straight interleague games and four in a row overall. He also struck out his last three times up to strand five runners — three in scoring position.
Duda had a key miscue in right field and then squandered two chances at the plate to get the Mets back in the game. They left 11 runners on before a sellout crowd of 42,122 — the largest in the four-year history of Citi Field.
Nova had seven strikeouts, and Yankees relievers combined for eight more in 3 1-3 innings of shutout ball. They recorded seven consecutive outs on strikeouts before Murphy's game-ending fly.
"The bullpen came in and did an incredible job," Ibanez said.
The 15 strikeouts tied a season high for both teams.
Clay Rapada (2-0) fanned Nieuwenhuis with two on in the sixth, and Logan pitched out of trouble in the seventh. David Robertson worked around a pair of one-out walks in the eighth, fanning Nieuwenhuis to end the inning, and Soriano got three outs for his 14th save in 15 chances.
Making his fourth major league start since returning from shoulder surgery, Young cruised into the seventh with a 3-0 lead. But it all unraveled in a span of nine pitches.
"A bloop and a blast — they can get to you in a minute," Collins said. "Three-nothing against the Yankees isn't exactly a monumental lead."
Mark Teixeira, who is 0 for 8 against Young, worked a leadoff walk, and Nick Swisher took a hefty cut that produced only a soft fly to medium right field. Duda, still learning the intricacies of outfield play, broke back on the ball and then charged in. He came up short on a diving attempt, and the ball bounced past him for a double, Swisher's 1,000th career hit.
"He took a big swing, hit it off the end of the bat. I took a step back, then tried to make a play I really shouldn't have," Duda said.
Ibanez lined the next pitch barely over the fence in the right-field corner for his 11th homer, tying the score at 3.
"It's the worst pitch I threw," Young said. "It's frustrating and it's probably going to keep me from getting much sleep."
That was it for Young, who had an RBI single in the sixth. One out later, Chavez sliced an 0-2 pitch from Jon Rauch (3-7) into the left-field corner for his first career pinch-hit homer and the Yankees' second of the season.
"He hit a good pitch. He took a panic swing and barreled it," Rauch said. "We haven't made pitches when we need to — I know I haven't."
Just like that, the Yankees had a 4-3 lead.
"It happened fast, no question," Mets catcher Josh Thole said. "That mistake, it got us."
Struggling to hit with runners in scoring position, the Yankees are winning with power. They have 13 home runs against the Mets this season, accounting for 20 of their 26 runs. The Bronx Bombers lead the majors with 110 homers in 70 games, including 32 in the last 18 games.
"When you think about our club, they're in scoring position when they walk to the plate," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "That's the kind of club we have. They hit the ball out of the ballpark and we win games."
The Mets had a great chance to tie it in the seventh. But with a runner on third, Logan whiffed Duda on three pitches and made another left-handed hitter, Murphy, look bad on an inning-ending strikeout.
NOTES: Mets LF Jason Bay (concussion) was in the clubhouse before the game and said he hopes to be back after the All-Star break, though there is no timetable for his return. ... Mets closer Frank Francisco was unavailable because of soreness on his left side. He will be re-evaluated Sunday. ... Rauch has lost seven straight decisions, matching the worst skid of his career. ... 1B Ike Davis was scratched from the lineup about 90 minutes before the first pitch and was sent home with food poisoning, Collins said.