Baxter helps Mets beat Blue Jays to avoid sweep
TORONTO (AP) Mike Baxter erased some bad memories with a big day at the plate.
Baxter had a career-high three hits and came within a home run of the cycle, Dillon Gee won for the first time in four starts and the New York Mets held on to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-5 on Sunday.
The Mets had lost four of five, but avoided a sweep by improving to 12-6 in day games.
"When you come back and take the third game of a series like that with pretty much a total team effort today, it's a great way to leave town and it's a good note to go to Pittsburgh on," Baxter said. The Mets open a three-game series against the Pirates on Monday night.
Baxter was called out at second base trying to stretch a double in the ninth inning of Saturday's loss, left frustrated about a phantom tag from Toronto's Yunel Escobar that denied New York a chance for a late rally.
There were no such frustrations Sunday. Baxter doubled and scored in the first, tripled home a run in the second and singled and scored in the fifth. He had two chances to complete his cycle, but he grounded out in the sixth and walked in the eighth.
"It crossed my mind, but I didn't really want to get away from what I've been doing," Baxter said. "I just want to try and keep the same approach. I don't want to start messing with it."
Baxter said he once hit for the cycle in the minor leagues, rounding the bases on an inside the park home run.
With a major league-best eight pinch hits in 17 at bats, Baxter has been a key weapon off the bench for Mets manager Terry Collins. He's starting to prove himself just as valuable in the starting lineup, going 7 for 15 in his past five games.
"His bat is speaking for itself and when you've got a red-hot bat like his, you've got to get him in there," Collins said.
New York third baseman David Wright, who missed Saturday's game due to illness, returned to the lineup and went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and a walk, raising his majors-leading average to .412. Wright also struck out twice, once with the bases loaded.
Jose Bautista homered for Toronto, his 11th, but the Blue Jays failed to extend their season-high four-game winning streak.
Gee (3-3) allowed three runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings, leaving for reliever Bobby Parnell after Bautista's RBI single in the seventh. He walked four and struck out six.
After allowing seven runs in a loss to Milwaukee last week, Gee said he was "effectively wild" against Toronto.
"I was all over the place today," Gee said. "Last game I felt great and I gave up seven runs. Today I felt terrible, like I couldn't throw a strike, and I give up three. I don't know. It's a crazy game."
"When Jose got the hit I said `Oh boy, let's see what happens here,'" Collins said. "He reached back for a little extra."
Francisco, who blew four saves while with Toronto last season, was booed when he took the mound. Asked afterward about the hostile reception, he explained it with a humorous reply.
"They love me and I left," Francisco said.
New York opened the scoring with three runs in the first. Wright doubled in two with a shot to center. Two outs later, Wright scored when center fielder Colby Rasmus couldn't hold on to Kirk Nieuwenhuis' bloop double, with the ball dropping out of his glove after a sliding catch.
Manager John Farrell came out to argue with umpire Mark Wegner, but the call stood.
The Mets added one more in the second on Baxter's RBI triple to right.
Toronto answered in the bottom half on an RBI single by Yan Gomes, and cut it to 4-2 on Bautista's leadoff drive to left in the third.
New York pushed its lead back to four and chased Blue Jays starter Henderson Alvarez with a two-run fifth. Daniel Murphy grounded an RBI single to center and Ike Davis drove in a run with a fielder's choice.
Bautista chased Gee with an RBI single in the seventh and Toronto closed to within 6-5 by scoring twice off Parnell in the eighth. Arencibia and Thames hit consecutive doubles and Colby Rasmus snapped an 0-for-20 slump with an RBI single.
Alvarez (3-4) lost his second straight start and matched a career-high by giving up six earned runs, as many as he'd allowed in his previous five starts combined. Alvarez allowed nine hits in a season-low five innings, walked two and struck out three.
"He was so strong coming out of the bullpen that he was almost throwing through his sink," Farrell said. "Some fastballs straightened out, they got up in the zone."
The slumping Davis went 1 for 4 with a double, raising his average to .163, but was replaced by pinch-hitter Scott Hairston with men at first and second in the ninth.
"With the Ike Davis we know he can be, I wouldn't (pinch hit) there," Collins said. "I just wanted to add on."
NOTES: Wright's first-inning single was the 1,301st career hit, moving him past Jose Reyes into sole possession of second place on New York's all-time list.The Mets placed RHP Miguel Batista (back) on the 15-day DL and recalled RHP Chris Schwinden from Triple-A Buffalo. ... Rasmus returned to the lineup after failing to start the past two games. ... Bautista started at DH Sunday, with Ben Francisco starting in RF. Francisco was replaced by Rajai Davis in the sixth after complaining of a tight left hamstring. ... Blue Jays 1B Edwin Encarnacion fell into the camera bay next to the visitor's dugout while catching a foul pop up by Cedeno for the final out of the fifth. ... The crowd of 41,867 was Toronto's biggest since an opening day sellout.
Updated May 20, 2012