Pete Alonso lifted the ball into the left-field seats and sent the New York Mets soaring into their high-profile Subway Series matchup against the Yankees and Aaron Judge.
Alonso hit a go-ahead, three-run homer off Joe Musgrove and had four RBIs to retake the major league lead, leading the Mets over the San Diego Padres 8-5 on Sunday night and avoiding a three-game sweep.
Next up: a two-game series against the Yankees at Citi Field starting Tuesday night. Both teams lead their divisions, and Alonso’s 82 RBIs are one more than Judge’s total.
“I wouldn’t really call it toe to toe, me versus him,” Alonso said. “This is a moment where the city can come together over the game of baseball.”
San Diego had won the first two games of the weekend series behind Yu Darvish and Blake Snell. The Padres took a 1-0 lead in the sixth behind Joe Musgrove and had not trailed in 25 innings.
New York’s NL East lead was down to a half-game over defending World Series champion Atlanta.
“We just ran into two buzz saws,” Alonso said. “We needed this one. This one was huge for us today.”
Eric Hosmer provided Musgrove (8-3) a 1-0 lead with a run-scoring double in the sixth off Drew Smith (2-3), but the Mets rallied in the bottom half on a sweltering night and reopened a 1.5-game lead over the second-place Braves. New York avoided a three-game sweep and what would have been its first four-game losing streak this year.
After wasting a second-and-third, no-outs threat in the fifth, the Mets pressured again when Starling Marte singled leading off the sixth and Francisco Lindor doubled.
Pitching coach Ruben Niebla went to the mound, and Musgrove hung a 2-1 slider that Alonso hit into the left-field seats.
“You can’t hit a five-run homer and you can’t hit a four-run single,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “Sometimes you want something too much, and something like that might let you kind of get back into the flow of who you are.”
Daniel Vogelbach, making his Mets debut, got New York’s first hit in the fifth, then walked and scored in the sixth when Luis Guillorme hit a perfectly placed two-out RBI single on a jam shot off Nick Martinez that dropped into shallow left as shortstop Ha-Seong Kim pulled up. Tomás Nido followed with an opposite-field RBI double that hopped off the right-center fence.
Rookie center fielder Esteury Ruiz allowed Alonso’s double against Steven Wilson to go over his glove and high off the wall, Mark Canha followed with an RBI infield hit on a slow roller, and third baseman Manny Machado threw past first for a run-scoring error.
Vogelbach, acquired Friday from Pittsburgh, went 1 for 3 and received a warm ovation. He had been 0 for 8 against Musgrove.
“I don’t know that I’ve played in an environment like that — at least being the home team.” Vogelbach said. “Pretty cool to call it my home field now.”