Big frame lifts Mets past Rockies
Milledge spearheads comeback on night of '86 celebration
NEW YORK -- One by one, members of the 1986 Mets trotted to the tarpaulin blanketing the Shea Stadium infield on Saturday, waving and basking in warm memories created during an unforgettable run to the top.
For the sellout crowd of 55,085 packing the ballpark's four levels, it was a moment for celebration. But for outfielder Lastings Milledge -- who was all of 1-year-old when the Mets last won it all -- it became an inspiration.
"I got chills, man," Milledge said. "I was in [the clubhouse] watching it on TV. I was barely born when they won the World Series, but I lived through it through the highlights. I feel like I was there. It pumped me up."
On the night the Mets celebrated their second World Series championship, Milledge put forth one of the best games of his young Major League career. The 21-year-old stroked three hits, including a home run, and played a main part in a six-run sixth inning that helped propel the Mets to a 7-4 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
"He's going to hit," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "Every once in a while, he'll go through ups and downs. He's been working real hard in the cage and he was able to contribute a couple of real big hits for us."
Wearing throwback polyester uniforms that featured the familiar 1980s racing stripes, the Mets fell behind 4-0 to Colorado starter Jeff Francis, who carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Milledge cracked the effort with a two-out single to right field.
In the sixth inning, with many of their '86 predecessors looking on approvingly, the Mets took advantage of the Rockies' miscues to post a six-run rally against Francis, taking the lead and chasing the southpaw.
"It does kind of remind you of the '86 team, the way they battled back and came at you every inning," Randolph said. "A little bit of that rubbed off on us."
Michael Tucker singled and scored New York's first run when left fielder Matt Holliday dropped Carlos Beltran's one-out sacrifice fly, his 100th RBI this season. Carlos Delgado followed with a run-scoring single to left field against the shift, bringing home Paul Lo Duca, who had doubled.
Francis' next pitch ticked off catcher Yorbit Torrealba's glove and rolled to the backstop for a passed ball, scoring Beltran. Milledge then connected with a game-tying single to right field, his third time on base in the game.
"He was still making good pitches, but we put pressure on him," Milledge said of Francis. "When you put pressure on somebody, it seems to go in your favor."
The runners advanced when third baseman Garrett Atkins committed a throwing error, keeping the inning alive. Julio Franco was walked intentionally before both Tucker and Jose Reyes worked bases-loaded walks that forced home the Mets' fifth and sixth runs.
Milledge also homered in the eighth off Manuel Corpas to extend the lead, a solo shot into the left-field bleachers. It was Milledge's fourth Major League home run and his first since being recalled from Triple-A, following a one-month stint earlier this season.
"I don't know for what reason, but I felt like I had to carry the team [earlier]," Milledge said. "We've got a lot of guys who are going to carry the team. The only thing I have to do is contribute what I can contribute."
The Mets got 5 2/3 innings from fill-in starter Dave Williams, who was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to start in place of injured ace Pedro Martinez.
The 27-year-old left-hander started the season with the Cincinnati Reds but was designated for assignment after going 2-3 with a 7.20 ERA in eight starts.
Making his debut as a member of the Mets, Williams was pleased with his performance, though he was charged with three runs and left the game with cramps in both legs.
Randolph said he was "very impressed" with Williams' performance, though he cautioned it was still too early to determine if Williams would get another start.
"Coming here and getting a chance to help the team out, I knew I needed to take advantage of this opportunity," Williams said. "I just tried to keep them in the game and help the offense do their thing.
"I know I can pitch. I'm confident in my abilities. It's nice to get a call-up and have your manager think you can help this team out."
Williams surrendered a fifth-inning home run to Torrealba and left a two-on, two-out jam for reliever Roberto Hernandez in the sixth, who surrendered a three-run home run to Atkins, the first batter he faced.
Right-hander Aaron Heilman picked up the victory with two innings of scoreless relief before Billy Wagner finished off the Rockies for his 30th save of the season.
The rallying victory allowed the Mets to briefly go 'back to the future,' as Milledge spoke openly about envisioning Shea Stadium in a playoff series and other Mets chirped about creating their own October memories.
But even with '86 heroes still filtering out of the building, Randolph was quick to flash forward from those familiar 20-year-old images, back to the here and now.
"You get big ideas in your mind and you're looking forward to great things happening at the end of the season," Randolph said, "but you take it one day at a time and keep it real focused.
"It's nice to see some of the clips and reminisce a little bit about '86, but we've got a long way to go before we get there."
Bryan Hoch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.