NEW YORK -- The Mets may have waited until the last possible moment, but what looked to be a lost weekend took a turn for the better on Sunday in Flushing.
After Ronny Paulino tied the game in the ninth inning with a two-out single off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, Jason Bay singled home Scott Hairston to seal a 3-2, 10-inning win that snapped a three-game losing streak and salvaged the finale of the Subway Series. The postgame revelation that shortstop Jose Reyes suffered only a Grade 1 strain of his left hamstring -- and could play as early as Tuesday -- further brightened the Mets' outlook as they enter a seven-game West Coast trip in the final week before the All-Star break.
"This game is enormous," manager Terry Collins said. "To have the game we had, to battle to the end and to score off Mariano, it doesn't happen very often. And to get the one guy that we need to get going and have him get the big hit for us, a lot of pieces fell into place today."
Bay's struggles -- he is now hitting .248 with a .333 on-base percentage -- have not gone unnoticed. But the left fielder's recent surge, including an 8-for-22 stretch during a six-game hitting streak, has given the Mets hope that the worst is behind him. Bay started the ninth-inning rally with a two-out walk on a 3-2 pitch from Rivera and came around to score the tying run.
"It's great," Bay said. "I don't want to make it monumental or anything, but just the way I've struggled, and to come through in an unbelievable game and to come back in a big series, just to salvage that, it means a lot."
"We've been seeing Jason Bay get better and better each and every game," Collins said. "The other day in Detroit, he was talking to me about how he was seeing the ball better and feeling more relaxed at the plate, and it carried over to this series also."
After twice facing their final strike -- Paulino's single came on a 1-2 pitch -- the Mets had a chance to win the game in the ninth after Yankees shortstop Ramiro Pena let a Ruben Tejada grounder bounce between his legs. But left fielder Brett Gardner threw Lucas Duda out at home plate, and the Mets rallied in the 10th. Hairston led off with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice before taking third on another Pena error, this one with two outs. Hairston scored easily when Bay singled to right-center field.
"When he gets thrown out, it's the highest high and the lowest low," Bay said. "Probably for the fans, too, but it's 20 times worse in the dugout. The game -- there was a lot going on."
For the first eight innings, there wasn't. After sitting through a rain delay of one hour, 29 minutes, the Mets scratched one run off Freddy Garcia in the first but did not score again until the ninth. R.A. Dickey, who left after five innings with an injury to his left glute muscle, allowed one run on two hits and struck out three. Jason Isringhausen put the Mets behind when he allowed a triple to Brett Gardner and then a Curtis Granderson sacrifice fly. That set the stage for Paulino's single off Rivera, whom he had faced just one other time in his career.
"It's a tough spot," Collins said. "Nobody hits this guy very good, but with the righty, it kind of eliminates the cutter. Ronny's had a chance. I thought he was going to put the ball in play; I didn't think he was going to strike out. It's one of those things where you put the ball in play, and things happen."
The Mets (42-42) reached the .500 mark again and will face the Dodgers four times in Los Angeles before a three-game series in San Francisco against the defending World Series champion Giants. Then comes the All-Star break, which means rest for everyone but Reyes and Carlos Beltran, the Mets' two representatives.
"I'm running out of things to say about these guys," Collins said. "They took a body blow today, yesterday with Jose today with R.A.'s hip or whatever it might be -- they just play. They play until the game is over, and they take blows and they bounce back. They're so fun to be around because they don't let things get to them."
Thomas Boorstein is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.