NEW YORK (AP) _ David Wright and the New York Mets ran the bases well and made several sparkling plays in the field to support a solid pitching performance.
In short, they beat the slumping Minnesota Twins at their own game.
Wright homered and drove in two runs to back 10-game winner Mike Pelfrey, and the Mets defeated Minnesota 5-2 Friday night in the opener of an intriguing interleague series between playoff contenders.
“It’s good for us to come in here and play some of the best teams in baseball and play well against them,” Pelfrey said. “I think it’ll build our confidence up even more.”
Jason Bay added a long RBI double and the Mets took advantage of two defensive miscues by Minnesota to win for the 15th time in 19 games. Jose Reyes drove in a run and scored another as New York improved to 27-11 at home with its 13th victory in the past 15 games at Citi Field.
The Mets, a half-game behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East, are a major league-best 22-8 since May 22. The Twins, who own a half-game lead in the AL Central over Detroit, have lost four straight and six of eight.
“I think everybody in this clubhouse is frustrated,” starting pitcher Kevin Slowey said. “We’re disappointed and frustrated and we know we’re better than this and that goes for me, too.”
New York ace Johan Santana faces his former team for the first time in the regular season when the series resumes Saturday.
Pelfrey (10-2) gave up a leadoff homer to Denard Span on his second pitch and little else. The big right-hander threw 117 pitches in six innings, allowing two runs and six hits without a walk.
“I stayed in there and kept trying to grind,” Pelfrey said. “It was tough.”
Bobby Parnell and Pedro Feliciano each worked a perfect inning before Francisco Rodriguez pitched the ninth for his 17th save in 20 chances.
With a full count on Michael Cuddyer, Mets manager Jerry Manuel and a trainer came out to the mound to check on Rodriguez as all the infielders huddled behind him. The All-Star closer threw one warmup pitch and stayed on to get the final two outs without much problem.
“Just felt some tightness in my back,” said Rodriguez, who revealed he received an anti-inflammatory shot about two weeks ago. “I’ve been dealing with this for a while.”
Span’s third career leadoff homer put Minnesota in front, but the Mets scored three times in the fourth.
Reyes opened with a soft single for the first baserunner against Slowey (7-5), tagged for seven runs and seven hits in 1 2-3 innings in his previous start at Philadelphia. Reyes advanced to second when Slowey made a wild pickoff attempt for an error.
One out later, Wright pulled an RBI double down the left-field line and Ike Davis followed with a single to center. Wright was held up at third, but Span’s throw to the plate was way off line and it bounded away from catcher Joe Mauer, allowing Wright to score on the error.
It was the second costly mistake by the Twins, who pride themselves on strong defense and fundamentals. Span stayed face down on the center-field grass for a few moments as if he’d just blown Game 7 of the World Series.
Bay added a run-scoring double off the bottom of the left-center fence, making it 3-1.
“I think a lot was made of this stretch of nine games against (top) teams,” Bay said. “Let’s not forget that we’re one of them.”
Ruben Tejada doubled off the left-center wall in the fifth and scored on Reyes’ sacrifice fly with a neat, headfirst slide around Mauer. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire came out for a civilized argument with plate umpire Greg Gibson.
Wright opened the sixth with his 13th homer, a drive into the second row in the right-field corner on an 0-2 pitch. It was the third home run this season at spacious Citi Field for Wright, who began the day leading the NL with 57 RBIs.
“I’m in a good spot right now. I feel good,” he said.
Pelfrey escaped trouble in the third when he struck out Mauer and got fellow slugger Justin Morneau to ground into an inning-ending double play with two on.
“We’re going to be fine, not a big deal,” Cuddyer said. “We’re in a rut, just play yourselves out of it.”
NOTES: Minnesota placed LHP Jose Mijares on the restricted list as it waits for him to return from Venezuela. His stint on the family medical emergency list just expired. … Mets CF Angel Pagan (muscle spasms in right side) and C Rod Barajas (back) sat out again. Josh Thole got his first start of the season behind the plate. … Mets CF Carlos Beltran, recovering from offseason knee surgery, was the DH in his second rehab game at Class-A St. Lucie. He went 2 for 3 with a double and a walk.