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Mets score eight runs in the sixth inning

ARLINGTON -- Ever an optimist, even Terry Collins admitted after Friday's game that his team cannot match the Rangers slug for slug. Only one active Mets player entered this weekend with double-digit homers; no one else on the team could boast more than four.

How, then, to defeat a Rangers team so capable of changing games in an instant? How, then, to compete against a premier American League team in a homer-happy American League park?

The Mets singled 13 times Saturday and doubled four times, backing Jon Niese in a 14-5 victory that could best be called "relentless."

That's how.

"I don't know what it was," Collins said. "We just got balls and put good swings on them."

It was apparent from the game's opening moments that the Mets would have little trouble hitting Rangers starter Alexi Ogando, who entered the day ranked seventh in the AL with a 2.66 ERA and fifth with a 0.98 WHIP. After Jose Reyes and Willie Harris led off the game with consecutive singles, Carlos Beltran tripled home both runners to give the Mets an early lead.

The Mets were already up three runs in the third inning when they struck again, this time on Lucas Duda's two-run double and Josh Thole's RBI single.

"I was trying to make my pitches, and I couldn't get control of it," Ogando said. "I was falling behind in the count, so I had to come over the plate."

The result was offense. Lots of it. And there was more.

Long after Ogando's departure, the first eight batters to face Dave Bush and Michael Kirkman in the sixth inning all reached base, six of them driving in runs. Duda provided the primary highlight with his second two-run double of the day, which fell feet short of a grand slam and helped him set career highs with four hits and three doubles, the trio of doubles tying a Mets single-game record for the club (now done 25 times).

But he was far from alone. All nine Mets starters reached base at least once, all but Angel Pagan -- who flied out to the warning track in the eighth inning -- recording at least one hit. Six Mets batters -- Reyes, Harris, Beltran, Duda, Thole and Ruben Tejada -- finished with multiple hits.

As a result, the Mets scored more runs than they had in their previous five games combined. They were relentless. It was therapeutic.

"It was fun," Duda said. "Texas is a tough ballclub. They pitch well, they play defense well, they hit well. It's a great team. It was just a fun day. Everything was clicking for us."

The only troubling aspect for the visitors surfaced in the sixth inning, when Niese left the game with an irregular heartbeat. But even that did not overly concern the Mets, who considered the issue minor and planned to administer further tests next week. The team removed Niese simply as a precaution, given both the score and the Arlington heat.

To put it bluntly, the Mets no longer needed him. Prior to his departure, Niese drew comfort from his Texas-sized margin for error, allowing back-to-back homers to Adrian Beltre and Michael Young in the fourth inning, but otherwise holding the Rangers in check.

"Our hitters did an outstanding job getting that early lead," Niese said. "It was great. It's fun to watch them when they hit like that."

It is not something that happens often -- especially not lately, with David Wright and Ike Davis, two of the team's top power threats, both on the disabled list nursing serious injuries. Prior to the game, Collins burst out laughing when asked how he could generate more offense from a team ranked 26th in the Major Leagues in homers.

"If I can do it, I'll have a bigger job than this," Collins cracked. "I'll be the world hitting coach."

The Mets, Collins knows, cannot bottle this type of game. They will not always be as sharp and as fortunate as they were on Saturday, in easily their most productive offensive game of the season. Most days, the Mets will not come close.

But as Duda noted, on a personal level, Saturday's exaggerated successes helped to give him confidence. And perhaps there's something to that. Perhaps if the Mets can replicate some of the swagger they earned in pounding the Rangers without the injured Wright, Davis, Jason Bay and Justin Turner, they can start to punish opposing pitchers on a more consistent basis.

For now, they'll simply enjoy their blowout victory for what it was.

"It was one of those days today," Collins said. "We put some good swings on the ball. We attacked." Comments