McNeil snaps home run drought, Mets move over .500 by beating Astros

NEW YORK (AP) — Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil homered in the sixth inning Friday night, powering the New York Mets to a 7-2 win over the Houston Astros and moving them over .500 for the first time since May 2.

The Mets have gone 18-6 since May 30 — the day after players held a team meeting following a 10-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers — to improve to 40-39.

It is the fourth time in team history New York has climbed over .500 after being at least 11 games under the break-even mark.

“I think we’re just in a good place,” McNeil said. “We’re playing solid baseball This team’s good. This team can do some pretty special things. Back over .500, which is huge.”

Alonso snapped a 2-2 tie with a one-out homer off Astros starter Ronel Blanco (8-3) — his first round-tripper since June 19 and only his third since June 5.

McNeil capped the outburst by ending an even longer power drought with a 346-foot, three-run homer just beyond the right field fence. The second baseman was 12 for 83 (.145) since his previous homer against Cleveland on May 22.

“I thought it was going down in the corner,” McNeil said with a grin. “I knew it was extra bases for sure. No better feeling once that ball got in the first row.”

McNeil finished 3 for 4 in his first three-hit game since May 7. The 2022 major league batting champion is hitting just .221 this season, which ranks 125th out of 144 qualified batters through late Friday night.

“My year’s not where I want it to be and it’s going to be very hard to save,” McNeil said. “But what I can do right now is show up everyday at the ballpark, play well, be that .300 hitter I can be from here on out and lead this team to, hopefully, the playoffs.”

Tyrone Taylor homered, Francisco Lindor had a run-scoring double and Francisco Alvarez added a sacrifice fly.

Jose Quintana surrendered two runs in four-plus innings before a quartet of relievers combined for five scoreless frames for the Mets, who have three bullpen members on the injured list and will be without Edwin Díaz until July 6 due to a 10-game suspension for using an illegal substance.

Dedniel Nuñez (2-0) allowed three hits in two innings of relief to get the win.

“We’ve been saying that guys are going to have to step up and they did that today — especially on an night where it was a battle for Quintana,” Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said.

Jose Altuve hit his 39th career leadoff homer for the Astros, who had their seven-game winning streak snapped and fell to 40-41 in their attempt to move over .500 for the first time this season. Houston had just five hits in 26 plate appearances with runners on base.

“We had opportunities to score a lot of runs and we’ve been doing that very well the last couple weeks, getting big hits with runners in scoring position,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “That wasn’t the case today, but we’ll turn the page and be ready to play tomorrow.”

Jeremy Peña had an RBI single in the third, half an inning after he misplayed a pop-up while conducting an in-game broadcast interview.

Yordan Alvarez had three hits and a walk in five plate appearances.

Blanco gave up six runs (three earned) in 5 2/3 innings.

Espada was ejected after Jake Meyers struck out looking in the seventh.

“I thought the strike zone was a little bit too big,” Espada said.


Following the game, infielder Jose Iglesias performed his walk-up song “OMG,” which he released earlier Friday under the stage name Candelita. The Mets gathered on the field to watch Iglesias before surrounding him and dancing near second base at the end of the song.

“The scenario was perfect,” said Iglesias, who said he wouldn’t have performed the song if the Mets lost. “The fans enjoyed it. The team enjoyed it. Great ‘W’ for the team. It was just a special night overall.”

Mendoza and Mets players wore “OMG” shirts before and after the game. The song has become the team’s victory anthem and is played whenever a New York player homers at Citi Field.

“I love it,” Mendoza said before the game. “He’s got a pretty good rhythm to it. It’s a good day for him and for all of us here.”


Astros: RHP Luis Garcia (Tommy John surgery) began a rehab assignment Friday and needed just 12 pitches to toss a perfect inning for the rookie-level Florida Complex League Astros. Garcia, who underwent surgery on May 19, 2023, struck out two. … OF Kyle Tucker (left shin) took 35 swings in the cage Friday. Tucker hasn’t played since fouling a ball off his shin June 3.

Mets: RHP Drew Smith (right elbow sprain) believes he’ll need either Tommy John surgery or an internal brace procedure after an MRI “showed some pretty significant damage.” Smith, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019, began feeling stiffness in his elbow during an appearance June 26 and had trouble getting loose Sunday night, when he got two ninth-inning outs against the Cubs before being pulled. … RHP Kodai Senga (right shoulder) is slated to throw a bullpen session Sunday before beginning a rehab assignment next week.


Mets RHP Tylor Megill (2-4, 4.81 ERA) opposes Astros LHP Framber Valdez (6-5, 3.68 ERA) on Saturday.



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