NEW YORK— Michael Conforto hit a tiebreaking homer moments after an embarrassing error by Cleveland Indians left fielder Oscar Mercado, and the resurgent New York Mets rolled from there to a 9-2 victory Tuesday night.
J.D. Davis also went deep and Steven Matz (8-7) permitted only one earned run in 6 1/3 innings as the Mets opened a critical homestand against a trio of playoff contenders with a resounding performance. New York (65-60), which began the day two games out of a wild-card spot, improved to 25-10 since the All-Star break and matched a season best at five games over .500.
Pete Alonso hit a two-run double to cap a four-run seventh that broke it open, and Mets manager Mickey Callaway got the best of former boss Terry Francona in Cleveland’s first trip to Citi Field. Before getting the New York job, Callaway enjoyed an extremely successful five-year stint as Indians pitching coach under Francona.
The two still keep in touch regularly and they had a warm visit at the ballpark in the early afternoon.
“It’s kind of cool,” Callaway said before the game. “It’ll be fun to be across the field from him.”
A smiling Callaway greeted Carlos Santana and other Indians players and staffers during batting practice.
All-Star Game MVP Shane Bieber (12-6) gave up four runs — two earned — and four hits in six innings for the Indians, who started the night two games behind first-place Minnesota in the AL Central and leading the wild-card standings.
Mercado dropped an easy fly in shallow left in the sixth. With two outs, Conforto sent his 27th homer to right-center on a 1-2 slider from Bieber to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.
New York reliever Justin Wilson struck out Francisco Lindor and Mercado with two on to end the seventh. Amed Rosario and Joe Panik each added an RBI single in the bottom half before Alonso’s double gave the rookie 97 RBIs.
Jason Kipnis homered early and hit an RBI single for the Indians, but their first trip to Queens since 2004 was a flop. Cleveland split a four-game series at Yankee Stadium last weekend to begin an eight-day stay in New York City.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber was shut down for two weeks with an abdominal strain, an injury he sustained during his comeback from a broken arm. The two-time Cy Young Award winner was pulled from a minor league rehab start for Triple-A Columbus on Sunday after one scoreless inning because of abdominal tightness. Francona said at this point it wouldn’t be fair to speculate about the likelihood of Kluber returning in time to impact Cleveland’s playoff push. … RHP Jefry Rodríguez (strained shoulder) and OF Bradley Zimmer (shoulder, oblique) were each scheduled to play in a rehab game for Double-A Akron. RHP Dan Otero (shoulder inflammation) was set to make a rehab appearance for Columbus. … LHP Tyler Olson (shingles) was pulled off his rehab assignment because he wasn’t feeling well. … RHP Carlos Carrasco, diagnosed in June with a treatable form of leukemia, is scheduled to pitch Thursday in relief for Akron after making his first appearance Monday. … OF Jordan Luplow (strained right hamstring) resumed sprinting in Cleveland and will be re-evaluated in a week for a return to baseball activities. He has been hitting and throwing.