LOS ANGELES -- Every game that the Mets win without Jose Reyes counts almost as a bonus. Reyes is their spark, their engine -- they all admit that much. But he is injured now, and the Mets hope to do more than simply tread water in his absence.
Monday, they did. The two men replacing Reyes -- Ruben Tejada at shortstop, Angel Pagan in the leadoff spot -- keyed a sixth-inning rally at Dodger Stadium, leading the Mets to a 5-2 victory over the Dodgers.
"That's the only way we've played," manager Terry Collins said. "Guys have just stepped up. I'm not saying they've got to play better than they always have, but they just know they've got to concentrate and play the game right."
With Reyes watching from the visiting dugout, Tejada became the first Mets player to record a hit against Dodgers starter Rubby De La Rosa, singling to open the sixth inning. After Chris Capuano's sacrifice bunt, Pagan doubled Tejada home, before Carlos Beltran and Daniel Murphy hit consecutive two-out RBI doubles to give the Mets their first lead.
It was the only lead they would need, thanks in large part to Pagan, who also doubled and scored an insurance run in the eighth. Jason Bay and Lucas Duda drove in runs that inning, during the Mets' only other extended rally.
It was enough offense for Capuano, who, in the words of Collins, "just gave us what we had to have": six innings, six hits and two runs, coming on a pair of RBI singles from James Loney. Bobby Parnell fired two perfect innings of relief, again reaching triple digits with his fastball, and Francisco Rodriguez escaped a leadoff double to record a scoreless save.
"It's frustrating from the standpoint that Rubby was pitching good," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said, "and we got a lead early and had a chance there to add on and we weren't able to do it."
For many contrasting reasons, it was an uplifting victory for the visitors -- and perhaps the locale was one of them. Dodger Stadium has been an uncomfortable place in recent years for the Mets, who watched Reyes blow out his right hamstring tendon here in 2009, and watched Bay suffer a concussion crashing into the left-field wall here last year.
On both counts, Monday offered a reprise. Reyes tested his hamstring on the field before the game, much as he did two years ago. And Bay smacked into the fence making a catch on Aaron Miles' fly ball in the sixth, frightening his fans and, for a moment, himself.
"What are the odds?" Bay said. "It could have happened anywhere, but the fact that it happened here just adds to the insanity."
"It tells you what kind of player he is," Collins said. "He didn't shy away from it. He didn't do anything except make the great catch. That's why he's the guy he is."
His relief, and that of the team, was apparent. They can ill afford to lose another player to injury, already proceeding short-handed without Reyes. When Justin Turner stayed on the ground for several moments after being hit on the left foot with a pitch in the eighth, Collins joked that if Turner could still walk, he would stay in the game.
Turner could indeed walk, and did indeed stay in the game. And Reyes stayed out of it, which was certainly something to note.
The Mets have hardly bridged the toughest stretch of their season, which began two weekends ago in Texas, continued in Detroit and at home against the Yankees, and now finds the team on a run of seven critical West Coast games -- a to-be-determined number of them without their star shortstop.
To continue winning in Reyes' absence, the Mets will need similar contributions from Pagan and Tejada, each of whom finished with two hits. They will need strong pitching -- that's a given -- and plenty of resolve.
Recently, they have been displaying their aptitude in all such areas.
They can't let up now.
"We still have a job to do," Pagan said. "My job tonight was to go out there and get on base as much as I could. Obviously I couldn't get on base on my leadoff at-bat, but we still got the job done. Whenever they needed my hit, they had it. Whenever they needed a good at-bat from me, they got it."