Dice-K has strong start; Eric Young drives in game winner as Mets beat Indians 2-1

If Daisuke Matsuzaka was pitching for his job Sunday, he probably passed the test.

While Matsuzaka wasn't in the game when Eric Young's RBI double in the ninth gave the New York Mets a 2-1 win over the Cleveland Indians, the right-hander was impressive enough to likely buy some more time with the team.

"He pitched an outstanding game," New York manager Terry Collins said of Matsuzaka, who was charged with one run in 5 2-3 innings. "Boy, I was really happy for him."

Young's two-out double in the ninth scored the winning run as the Mets salvaged the finale of the series and ended the Indians' four-game winning streak.

Juan Lagares started the ninth with a single off Chris Perez (5-3) and moved to second on a sacrifice. Omar Quintanilla struck out, but Young lined a 2-0 pitch down the right field line.

Frank Francisco (1-0), making his first appearance of the season, got Asdrubal Cabrera to ground into a double play with the bases loaded to end the eighth.

LaTroy Hawkins pitched the ninth for his eighth save while Justin Turner hit a solo homer in the fourth. The Mets ended a trip that also had stops in Washington and Atlanta on a high note.

"We played good," Collins said. "We came into a tough road trip, three teams that are in the hunt. We're leaving 4-5 and very happy."

A lot of eyes were on Matsuzaka, who pitched poorly in his first three starts with the Mets since being signed last month, leading to speculation that his days with the team were numbered. He lost his first three starts, allowing 15 earned runs and 19 hits in 12 1-3 innings.

"I was really happy for Dice-K because he needed this game bad," Collins said. "He's a competitive guy, one of the better competitors you'll ever be around, and for him to go out and, after a rough start, pitch a good game I think is really meaningful for him."

"I think all my pitches were better than it's been, which made the big difference," Matsuzaka said through a translator. "I haven't been pitching very well for the past few weeks, and I know I need to make changes. I was able to do that today."

Matsuzaka spent most of the season pitching for the Indians' Triple-A team in Columbus, Ohio before requesting his release last month. He took a one-hit shutout into the sixth before being driven out of the game. He retired the first two batters before Jason Kipnis singled and Carlos Santana walked. Jason Kubel's line drive back to the mound appeared to hit Matsuzaka in the chest and rolled away, loading the bases.

Collins went to the mound and pulled Matsuzaka for right-hander Vic Black, who hit Cabrera in the lower right leg with his second pitch to force in a run and tie the game.

"It hit him right in the chest," Collins said of Kubel's liner. "He said it hit him in the big muscle."

Jason Giambi led off the ninth with a bloop single to left, his 2,000th career hit. With one out, pinch-runner Mike Aviles was thrown out attempting to steal second and ejected by umpire Gary Darling for arguing the call. Drew Stubbs struck out to end the game.

Turner hit a leadoff homer in the fourth off Indians starter Danny Salazar, the only run the rookie allowed in four innings.

The Indians entered Sunday trailing Tampa Bay by a game in the battle for the second wild card spot in the American League. Cleveland was trying for its first five-game winning streak since a season-best eight-game run July 24-Aug. 1, but was held to five hits — all singles — by five Mets pitchers.

NOTES: Mets' RHP Matt Harvey (elbow) will be examined by Dr. James Andrews to determine if he needs reconstruction surgery. Harvey was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 27 with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament. ... The game drew a crowd of only 13,317 fans. ... RHP Greg Burke has been recalled from Las Vegas for the sixth time this season.(asterisk) ... The Mets return home to start a four-game series with Washington on Monday. RHP Carlos Torres (3-3) meets LHP Gio Gonzalez (9-6).