MIAMI -- In as many ways as possible, the Mets stressed that Friday's loss to the Marlins was a blip. An aberration. The Mets had won their previous five games, they said Friday night, and possessed more than enough firepower to continue winning.
To back up that line of thinking was an entirely different challenge. But David Wright and the Mets set about doing so in quick order Saturday, rapping out 16 hits in a 9-3 victory over the Marlins. It was their sixth win in seven games, and their first in six days that did not require a late comeback.
Wright made sure of that much, singling in his team's first run in the first inning and adding a solo homer in the third. Wright finished 4-for-6 with a fine defensive play to rob Austin Kearns of a hit in the seventh inning, upping his season average to .402 -- and leading manager Terry Collins to gush afterward that "he's a star."
No Mets player has hit over .400 this late in a season since Cleon Jones in 1969. Asked if he can maintain this pace through September, Wright said simply: "No. I'll be honest with you. No."
But it was hardly a one-man band rocking Marlins Park on Saturday afternoon. The Mets tacked on a third run on Kirk Nieuwenhuis' two-out single in the fourth inning, after Brett Hayes was called for catcher's interference during Andres Torres' at-bat. Then they effectively put the game away against starter Ricky Nolasco in the fifth, when Torres singled home two more runs.
"We're playing real well," Wright said, deflecting talk of his individual achievements. "It makes my job a lot easier when the guys in front of me are getting on and the guys behind me are swinging the bats the way they are."
Nolasco had plunked Mets starter R.A. Dickey on the right arm moments prior to Torres' hit, forcing in a run with the bases loaded and leaving an imprint of the baseball's stitching on the inside of Dickey's wrist. Though the injury bothered him -- and seemed to affect him -- for the rest of the game, Dickey pitched for two more innings and did not expect to receive an X-ray.
From the start, the knuckleballer was admittedly not sharp, allowing a season-high nine hits in six innings. But he also stranded six of those runners to move to 5-1; Dickey did not record his fifth win last season until July 25.
"It was a real fight today," Dickey said. "I threw a lot of tumbleweeds up there, balls that were just kind of rotating on me. I didn't have my swing-and-miss knuckleball tonight, but they were hitting enough pieces of it to give me some ground balls in a couple of bigger situations. I was able to make a good pitch occasionally when I needed it."
Though the Marlins mustered a few token rallies in the later innings, they never seriously threatened to come back against the Mets for a second consecutive game. Of all their players, only Jose Reyes gave the Mets fits, finishing 4-for-5 and scoring one of Miami's three runs.
But Wright one-upped him with his own four-hit performance, which included a home run, two runs scored and three RBIs. The third baseman is now 12-for-22 dating back to May 7, leading the Major Leagues in batting average and on-base percentage. And he has done it playing through a fractured right pinkie finger, which is still not completely healed.
"He's on fire," Reyes said. "When he hits, he's one of the best players in the league. I spent a lot of time with David. He's an unbelievable hitter. He can play."
Though Wright has no designs on keeping up this .400 pace for the rest of the year -- and though he still strikes out a bit too much for that to be a realistic proposition -- he does have a chance at some other accolades. Though it is only mid-May, Wright has proven that he could contend for the second batting title in franchise history -- Reyes won the Mets' first one last year. And he could make a run at John Olerud's franchise-record .354 average in 1998.
"At the end of the year, David Wright's going to have some stinkin' really good numbers," Collins said. "He's got me convinced."
Of course, individual accomplishments only mean so much in the context of team deficiency. Just ask Reyes. So Wright is thrilled that his own successes have coincided with those of the Mets, who have now won six of seven in rather persuasive fashion.
"It's fun to come to the ballpark every day," Wright said. "At some point, I think that teams are going to realize the kind of talent that we have."