NEW YORK (AP) – Michael Conforto was the Mets’ only All-Star earlier this month. He’s certainly playing like one.
Conforto hit a pair of two-run homers and Jerry Blevins rescued the bullpen with a five-out save as New York held off the Oakland Athletics 7-5 on Friday night for its third straight victory.
“It’s not completely foreign to me to stay down in between innings,” Blevins said. “We set up a game plan and I just tried to rest, get ready.”
T.J. Rivera put the Mets ahead in the sixth inning with a two-run single that turned into a Little League home run. Rivera came all the way around to score on the play after third baseman Matt Chapman, trying to get Rivera at second, threw the ball away into right field for a costly error that made it 5-3.
Moments earlier, New York loaded the bases when Lucas Duda’s bad-hop infield single struck first baseman Ryon Healy near the temple. Healy left the game and walked off under his own power with a swollen bruise next to his left eye.
“He’s trying to turn a double play. The ball comes up and hits him in the side of the head. So we were a little unlucky there,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
Conforto’s second homer made it 7-3 in the seventh. Oakland rallied for two in the eighth, but Blevins replaced closer Addison Reed with the bases loaded and got five straight outs against his former team for his fifth major league save and first this season.
Mainly a lefty specialist, Blevins went at least 1 2/3 innings in a game for the first time since 2014 with Washington. He retired All-Star slugger Yonder Alonso on a foul popup and struck out Khris Davis to escape the eighth-inning jam.
“We just tried to find some matchups that worked,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Yoenis Cespedes had three hits after raising eyebrows when he told the San Francisco Chronicle before the game that he wants to play the final season of his career in Oakland, his first big league team.
Cespedes, who signed a $110 million, four-year contract in the offseason to remain with the Mets, also said Melvin is his favorite skipper and he doesn’t think there’s a better one.
“Bob’s a great manager. I don’t blame him,” Collins said after the game. “This is the first I’ve heard of it.”
After the game, Cespedes clarified his comments.
“With respect to the comments that I made about their manager, he’s a great manager. That does not take away from my relationship with Terry. That does not mean that I do not have a great relationship with Terry, that we don’t get along well and I don’t respect him,” Cespedes said through a translator. “This is my home. This is my team. I love those fans and I can’t say that enough.”
Hansel Robles (5-1) struck out two in a scoreless inning to earn the win.
Marcus Semien had four hits and two RBIs for Oakland in his first multihit game this year after spending much of the season on the disabled list.
Conforto connected in the third against rookie starter Paul Blackburn (1-1). The drive to right-center, estimated at 450 feet, was the longest of his career and nearly reached the Shea Bridge, a pedestrian walkway above and beyond the bullpens at Citi Field.
“Just not trying to hit the ball 450 feet, and then it ends up going that far anyways when you’re nice and loose and relaxed,” Conforto said.
Blackburn gave up four runs and six hits over 5 1/3 innings in his fourth major league start.
“I feel like I battled. My fastball command’s not where I wanted it to be today. I’ve got to work on that,” Blackburn said.
Mets lefty Steven Matz was lifted for a pinch hitter after throwing 83 pitches in five innings. Coming off the worst start of his career against Colorado, Matz allowed three runs and nine hits with five strikeouts and no walks.
“I don’t think I’m far off,” he said.
Matz also singled in front of Conforto’s first homer after Blackburn set down his first eight batters.
Athletics: Melvin called Healy’s injury a head contusion. . 2B Jed Lowrie was given a planned rest before reaching on a pinch-hit single in the eighth. He stayed in the game at second base. … Melvin said RHP Jharel Cotton felt good after throwing a bullpen. Cotton has been on the DL since July 4 with a blister on his right thumb but could rejoin the team before the end of July. … RHP Ryan Dull was sent to Triple-A Nashville to continue his rehab after being placed on the disabled list May 20 with a strained right knee. Melvin said Dull should rejoin the team toward the end of Oakland’s seven-game road trip. … RHP Kendall Graveman will make another rehab start for Nashville. He’s been on the DL since May 26 with a right shoulder strain.
Mets: 2B Neil Walker is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas on Saturday. He has been on the DL since June 15 with a partial tear in his left hamstring.
Athletics: LHP Sean Manaea (8-5, 3.68 ERA) starts Saturday night in the middle game of the interleague series.
Mets: RHP Zack Wheeler (3-7, 4.98) has lost five consecutive decisions.
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