BALTIMORE (AP) – The streak lasted so long, the New York Mets found it laughable.
After going nearly 11 months without winning two straight on the road, the Mets finally broke though Saturday night by defeating the Baltimore Orioles 3-1.
Combined with their 5-1 win Friday, New York ended a drought that began after victories over Houston last July 25-26.
“It’s embarrassing, it really is,” said Jeff Francoeur, who homered to back a strong pitching performance by Hisanori Takahashi. “As a team, it’s something we can laugh about, because we’re playing well and we know what kind of team we have this year.
“It just kind of shows you how bad things were last year and how bad we’ve been on the road this year. It’s almost hard to think that that’s actually possible,” he said. “I guess it is.”
Jose Reyes also homered for the Mets, who are now assured of winning the three-game series after going 0-7-2 away from home – their longest series drought to start a season since 1983.
“There is no doubt about it, that it’s been a big issue, a big story,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “To put that in the rearview mirror and keep playing is probably a confidence builder for the guys in the clubhouse. That they can win road games, that’s huge.”
Takahashi (5-2) gave up one run, six hits and a walk in seven innings. The rookie left-hander yielded a total of 11 runs in his previous two starts but had little difficulty against the AL’s lowest-scoring team.
“We did a good job (Friday),” he said through an interpreter. “I just wanted to keep the flow going.”
Pedro Feliciano worked the ninth and Francisco Rodriguez got three outs for his 13th save.
Orioles starter Brian Matusz (2-7) lost his seventh straight decision despite allowing only three runs and five hits in eight innings. The rookie right-hander was again victimized by a lack of offensive support – in his last nine starts, Baltimore has scored only 11 runs while he was in the game.
Matusz took consolation in that he kept the light-hitting Orioles within striking distance.
“It’s one of the best starts of my career,” he said. “I didn’t walk a guy today and I threw a lot of strikes. I made a couple mistake pitches with the solo home runs, but that’s going to happen when you’re throwing a lot of strikes. I was just attacking the zone today, and unfortunately came out with the loss.”
Baltimore has lost 14 of 16 while being outscored 96-35. The Orioles are 0-9-1 in their last 10 series.
New York snapped a 1-1 tie in the sixth. With runners at the corners and one out, David Wright hit a comebacker. Matusz got the out at second, but the high relay from Julio Lugo pulled first baseman Ty Wigginton off the bag as Ruben Tejada scored from third.
“When you’re in a funk those things happen. It seems like you don’t make the play and it costs you,” interim manager Juan Samuel said. “When things are going right, you don’t make the plays and it does not cost you.”
Francoeur homered leading off the eighth.
“That was nice – a run to get to 3-1 and get us some breathing room,” Francoeur said.
The Mets got off to a quick start behind Reyes, who hit the fifth pitch of the game into the left-field seats. It was his 15th career lead-off homer and New York’s first this season.
Rookie Ike Davis then reached on a two-out error and stole second, but Matusz struck out Jason Bay.
Baltimore used doubles by Corey Patterson and Nick Markakis to pull even in the bottom half. But the Orioles would not get another runner past second base the rest of the game.
The Orioles went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position after going 3 for 17 in that situation Friday.
Luke Scott took exception to a called third strike by Tom Hallion with a runner on first in the sixth, insisting the ball was outside. But that’s how this season has been for Baltimore.
“The ball is in the other batter’s box. You can’t hit that. You can’t even put it in play. You can’t foul it off,” he said. “Things like that have been happening to us consistently. And it makes it really tough to overcome.”
NOTES: The crowd of 42,248 was fortified by plenty of Mets fans. … Davis’ steal was his first in the majors. … Matusz has yielded seven homers in his last six starts after giving up only two long balls in his first eight. … Bay is in an 0-for-16 skid.