NEW YORK (AP) — Lucas Duda popped the ball up in the first inning, then jogged up the first-base line. When the ball dropped behind third baseman Gil Velazquez into short left field, he wound up with only a single.
An inning later, Mets manager Terry Collins pulled Duda from the game.
Even when New York won at home for the first time in nearly a month, the Mets couldn't do it without controversy.
"I know he didn't do it on purpose," Collins said after Friday night's 7-3 win over the Miami Marlins. "But as I told him when he came off the field, we've made a statement here. We're not going to play the game like that, especially right now. Had we won 10 of the last 12 or 15 of the last 20, you can kind of turn your head. But I couldn't turn my head tonight."
Scott Hairston hit a two-run homer and RBI triple, Ike Davis homered and Jonathon Niese reached 12 wins for the first time in his career. Coming off a 16-1 wipeout against Philadelphia, New York had lost nine straight at home since beating Houston on Aug. 26. The Mets won for only the fifth time in their last 30 games at Citi Field.
While loud rap music played in the clubhouse after the game, there was the lingering sour aftertaste of Duda's blunder.
"I hit a ball that I felt I should have hit but I didn't and I was frustrated," he said. "I didn't bust down the line and Terry pulled me out. That's pretty much how it is. I would have done the same thing. ... I didn't hustle, and he took me out."
With three runs in the first and two more in the second, the Mets ended a team-record streak of 16 home games without scoring more than three runs.
"David came through the dugout before the game, giving everybody a high-5 for five, for five runs," Collins said of David Wright. "It worked out."
Fourth-place New York (67-83) would have dropped into the NL East cellar with a loss but instead opened a 1½-game lead over the last-place Marlins (66-55).
"It felt like a playoff game win," Collins said somewhat sarcastically.
It was a messy game to watch. In the first two innings, a team missed a popup and a fly ball, botched a grounder and threw a run-scoring wild pitch.
In a surprise, the guilty club was the Marlins, not the Mets.
"The way we play the first three innings, it was embarrassing," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I think if I was pitching in that game, I might fight with somebody."