NEW YORK — Michael Conforto hit a tiebreaking homer moments after an embarrassing error by Indians left fielder Oscar Mercado, and the resurgent New York Mets rolled from there to a 9-2 victory Tuesday night.
J.D. Davis also went deep and Steven Matz (8-7) permitted only one earned run in 6 1/3 innings as the Mets opened a crucial homestand against three playoff contenders with a resounding performance. The Mets (65-60), who began the day two games out of a wild-card spot, improved to 25-10 since the All-Star break and matched a season best at five games over .500.
Pete Alonso hit a two-run double to cap a four-run seventh that broke it open, and Mets manager Mickey Callaway got the best of former boss Terry Francona in the Indians' first trip to Citi Field. Before getting the Mets job, Callaway enjoyed an extremely successful five-year stint as Indians pitching coach under Francona.
The two still keep in touch regularly and they had a warm visit at the ballpark in the early afternoon.
"It's kind of cool," Callaway said before the game. "It'll be fun to be across the field from him."
A smiling Callaway greeted Carlos Santana and other Indians players and staffers during batting practice.
All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Shane Bieber (12-6) gave up four runs — two earned — and four hits in six innings for the Indians, who started the night two games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins in the American League Central and leading the wild-card standings.
Mercado dropped an easy fly in shallow left in the sixth. With two outs, Conforto sent his 27th homer to right-center on a 1-2 slider from Bieber to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.
Mets reliever Justin Wilson struck out Francisco Lindor and Mercado with two on to end the seventh. Amed Rosario and Joe Panik each added an RBI single in the bottom half before Alonso's double gave the rookie 97 RBI.
Jason Kipnis homered early and hit an RBI single for the Indians, but their first trip to Queens since 2004 was a flop. The Indians split a four-game series at Yankee Stadium last weekend to begin an eight-day stay in New York City.
Indians: Right-hander Jefry Rodriguez (strained shoulder) and outfielder Bradley Zimmer are on a rehab stints with the RubberDucks. Right-hander Dan Otero (shoulder inflammation) was set to make a rehab appearance for Columbus. ... Left-hander Tyler Olson (shingles) was pulled off his rehab assignment because he wasn't feeling well. ... Outfielder Jordan Luplow (strained right hamstring) resumed sprinting in Cleveland and will be re-evaluated in a week for a return to baseball activities. He has been hitting and throwing.
Mets: Right-handed reliever Robert Gsellman, placed on the injured list last weekend, has a partially torn lat muscle that puts the rest of his season in jeopardy. ... Davis returned to the lineup after missing two starts last weekend while nursing a sore calf. ... Outfielder Brandon Nimmo moved to Triple-A Syracuse on his rehab assignment and played center field. He went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Nimmo has been sidelined since May 21 because of a bulging disk in his neck. ... Veteran infielder Jed Lowrie began a rehab assignment as the designated hitter for Class A St. Lucie and went 1-for-4 with an RBI. It was the first minor league rehab game since May 11 for Lowrie, yet to play for the Mets after signing a $20 million, two-year contract as a free agent last winter. He has been out all season due to a series of leg injuries.