PHILADELPHIA -- With injuries piling up around them, the Mets have depended upon David Wright this season to reach base, hit for power, field his position and yes, even play hurt. But until this week he had done it mostly in orthodox fashion, with his bat and with his glove.
Wright's more creative side surfaced in the seventh inning Tuesday, when his heads-up baserunning allowed the tying run to score in a 7-4 victory over the Phillies. It marked the Mets' league-leading 10th comeback win in 30 games, and their second in two nights at Citizens Bank Park.
"It worked out to our benefit," Wright said. "And we got a little lucky, also."
After the Mets put two runners on base while trailing by two runs in the seventh, Wright hit an RBI single to right, where Hunter Pence fielded the ball and fired it up the line. But as Kirk Nieuwenhuis was rounding third base, Wright wandered halfway between first and second and purposely caught himself in a rundown.
He hustled to avoid tag after tag after tag, until Nieuwenhuis finally strayed far enough from safety for Orr to try to gun him down. But Orr's throw skidded into the area beyond third base for an error, allowing Nieuwenhuis to score easily with the tying run.
"Just good baserunning by David," was how Nieuwenhuis described it.
The next batter, Lucas Duda, ripped a game-winning single off Antonio Bastardo, plating Wright and capping the Mets' second consecutive comeback in Philadelphia.
"What we've been doing the past couple of weeks, it's been exciting," Nieuwenhuis said. "Even against a good team like this, we're never out of it."
They easily could have been. Wright's hitting and baserunning took Mets starter Miguel Batista off the hook, after the 41-year-old struggled in his first start as a member of the rotation. Batista nearly blew open the game completely after serving up Pence's two-run homer in the first, then a pair of run-scoring hits in the second.
But he did settle down, pitching well in the middle innings before Manny Acosta bailed him out of a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth. It was Batista's second start of the season but his first crack at the rotation, after Chris Schwinden proved unable to hold down a starting spot in place of the injured Mike Pelfrey. Afterward, manager Terry Collins guaranteed him another start.
Phillies starter Joe Blanton had the reverse sort of luck, especially considering how many Mets players called his stuff "nasty." Strong over his first three hitless innings, Blanton began struggling in the fourth, when Daniel Murphy touched him for an RBI single. He walked the leadoff batter in the seventh inning, then allowed consecutive hits to Andres Torres and Nieuwenhuis before departing.
Up next was Wright, who actually baited the decisive rundown by mistake, thinking that Nieuwenhuis would try to score from first on his single. Once the Phillies trapped Wright between first and second base, he kept glancing at Nieuwenhuis, almost willing him to break for home.
"I wasn't lasting too much longer in that rundown, especially with Pete and Jimmy going back and forth with the ball," Wright said, referring to Orr and shortstop Jimmy Rollins."
"I made a bad throw to third," Orr said. "Whether he would have been out or safe, who knows? But it should have been a better throw."
Collins noted simply that "you expect stuff from him like that," acknowledging that Wright's baseball IQ may rank highest on the team.
Wright is also the unquestioned leader of this bunch, the longest-tenured Met and the most talented hitter in blue and orange. When Wright avoided the disabled list last month by playing through a fractured right pinkie finger, few were surprised. When he led the Major Leagues in on-base percentage for much of April despite that injury, nobody questioned it. As much as anyone, Wright is the reason why the Mets have been able to come from behind for 10 of their 17 victories this season.
But he is not the only reason.
"We're playing as a team now," Batista said. "We just have to keep up the pace."
Still, it was fitting that Wright made the night's final play, drifting into foul territory and throwing across his body to nail Hunter Pence at first base. Two innings earlier, Wright made a diving stop of Pence's hot grounder to help stamp the Mets' fourth consecutive victory.
"I think we've proven to ourselves that we have what it takes to stick in games and come back," Wright said.
Added Duda: "The team battled. That's what we're going to do the whole season."