LOS ANGELES — The Mets lineup went from in the hole to almost whole Sunday, bringing much-needed offense and respite against a powerful opponent.
Javier Baez returned from a two-week injury absence and contributed to two important rallies, helping the Mets to escape Southern California with a 7-2 victory over the Dodgers. The Mets snapped a three-game losing skid and finished their West Coast jaunt 2-5. Their NL East deficit is seven games to the Braves, who have seized control of the race by winning nine straight.
J.D. Davis delivered the key blow — a two-run homer in the seventh after Baez’s second double of the game. It was redemption for Davis, who twice in the series struck out with the bases loaded to help crush rallies in one-run losses. Davis finished the day with four RBIs.
Baez, who went 2-for-4, raised his arms to taunt the sellout crowd of 52,749 after his double in the seventh. Davis then unloaded against Phil Bickford to give the Mets the big hit with a runner in scoring position they have lacked.
Francisco Lindor is still the missing link to the lineup. The shortstop is close to a return from an oblique strain that has kept him sidelined for over a month, but he wasn’t deemed ready for action Sunday. His activation is expected early on the next homestand, which begins Tuesday against the Giants.
Marcus Stroman, the team’s de facto ace in Jacob deGrom’s absence, gave the Mets a second straight solid performance against a formidable lineup. The right-hander allowed two earned runs on four hits with six strikeouts and two walks over six innings. In his previous start, against a dangerous Giants lineup, he allowed three earned runs over seven innings.
The Mets got frisky right from the start. Baez, in his first plate appearance off the injured list, smashed an RBI double after Brandon Nimmo had walked leading off the game against David Price. Davis’ ensuing double brought in another run and Jonathan Villar’s RBI single gave the Mets a 3-0 lead.
If the first-inning lead seemed strange, consider the Mets’ only other scoring this month in the opening frame came on Aug. 10 against the Nationals.
After that lead shriveled to 3-2, the Mets had an opportunity to add on in the sixth, but wasted Jeff McNeil’s pinch-hit double that put runners on second and third with nobody out. Villar struck out and manager Luis Rojas stuck with Kevin Pillar — with Dominic Smith as an option off the bench — against right-hander Brusdar Graterol. Neither Pillar nor Stroman (with an intentional walk to Patrick Mazeika sandwiched in between) delivered. But the Mets made it a moot point with Davis’ homer in the seventh before they added two runs in the ninth.
Stroman dented in the fourth, allowing a two-run single to Cody Bellinger with two outs that sliced the Mets’ lead to 3-2. But before the Dodgers could take another shot, with runners on the corners, Bellinger was caught in a rundown attempting to steal second and tagged out.
Justin Turner and Chris Taylor each singled in the inning before Stroman walked AJ Pollock to load the bases.
Jeurys Familia, Trevor May and Edwin Diaz each pitched a scoreless inning of relief behind Stroman. The closer Diaz hadn’t appeared in a game since Wednesday, when he fired two scoreless innings in San Francisco.
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