Milledge goes 3-for-3 in Mets' win
Rookie heating up at the plate to help boost New York's offense
NEW YORK -- When Lastings Milledge arrived at Shea Stadium for the Mets' first series following the All-Star break, he came out at full force, hitting his first home run of the season on just his second day at the ballpark.
Since then, Milledge's output at the plate has only continued to increase. He's provided the Mets with a boost on offense, recently going 4-for-9 in his two games against Los Angeles on July 21-22, knocking in two RBIs and scoring twice himself.
The Mets' game on Tuesday night was no exception. Against the Pirates, Milledge showed that he isn't about to let his fiery bat cool off any time soon as he went 3-for-3 from the plate.
Milledge's final hit was a two-run homer in the eighth inning. Putting the long ball over the left field wall, Milledge followed Paul Lo Duca around the bases, pumping his fists while running as the hit extended New York's lead to 8-2.
The 0-1 pitch, a fastball from Pittsburgh reliever Masumi Kuwata, was just the kind of ball that Milledge likes to see.
"I'm just getting pitches, really getting pitches," Milledge said. "I can get aggressive. Next week I might not get that, but as long as they give it to me, I'm going to try to capitalize on it."
The Mets were already ahead when Milledge launched his homer, but the extra runs were more than welcome, manager Willie Randolph said. At this point in the season, the Mets are looking to collect as many wins as possible to hold on to their lead for first place in the National League East.
"You have to play nine [innings], and it does take a lot of pressure off the bullpen," Randolph said of late-inning runs. "It makes it easier for guys to feel good about themselves. Those late hits are always good going into the game because you have something positive to go into the next day on."
Before the home run, Milledge hit singles in the second and fourth innings and was hit by a pitch in the sixth. The outfielder's performance brought in three total runs, bringing his individual RBI tally to five to go along with seven hits in his last three games.
For Milledge, his recent success at the plate has helped him to settle in at Shea, and it's given him a confidence that he believes will help him to continue the streak.
"It's all about production and how you feel," Milledge said. "If I'm 3-for-3 today, coming back tomorrow I'm going to be comfortable. I'm going to be confident. If I'm 0-for-8, I'm going to be kind of frightened."
Lauren Kobylarz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.