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NYM@DET: Hairston clears the bases with a triple

DETROIT -- The sudden offensive juggernaut continued rolling Wednesday evening at Comerica Park. It continued steamrolling, to be more precise.

No, the Mets did not hit a grand slam against the Tigers in a 16-9 victory, their fourth straight. Nor did they homer (on this night, a feat). But they did nearly everything else en route to a franchise record in runs, scoring more over a four-game span than ever before.

And they wonder how long this run can last.

"It's been unbelievable," outfielder Angel Pagan said.

For a time, the early offense -- eight runs over the first five innings -- left the Mets considering a second straight rout. But they labored through the final four innings, allowing five home runs in total to keep the game close. It was not until Pagan provided the new franchise record with his two-run double in the ninth that the Mets finally exhaled.

Pagan drove home the club's 51st and 52nd runs since Saturday, breaking the team's previous four-game mark of 50 runs, set in 1990. Perhaps more importantly, the Mets moved to a season-high two games over .500 for the first time since April 3.

"These guys have bought into something," manager Terry Collins said. "They've bought into a feeling that they can do this, they can hang in there, they can play with anybody, and they're showing it."

In the end, it amounted to offensive overkill. But the Mets spent most of Wednesday's game figuring they'd need every one of their 16 runs and season-high 20 hits.

The major trouble began in the sixth inning, when Miguel Cabrera hit a three-run homer off Mets starter Chris Capuano, knocking him out of the game and forcing the Mets to piece together four innings from their bullpen. First up was Pedro Beato, who served up a solo homer to Jhonny Peralta. Then Tim Byrdak, who had not warmed up due to miscommunication, allowed a two-run homer to Andy Dirks in the seventh. Jason Isringhausen later allowed a stray run to score in the eighth.

If not for Daniel Murphy, who produced matching two-out, two-run singles in the seventh and eighth innings, the Tigers might have taken the lead. As it was, they simply continued to trail.

"I told the guys when the game was over how proud I was the way they've handled this entire trip. Tonight was another example of their durability and their character. They're a joy to be around."
-- Mets manager Terry Collins

"We ran into a hot team that's really swinging the bats right now," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "There's no question about that. They're just attacking everything you throw, to their credit."

"We had to keep adding," Murphy said. "Fortunately, we were able to do that."

It was Jose Reyes who -- go figure -- initially sparked the Mets, singling to lead off the game and scoring on a wild pitch.

But it was Scott Hairston who provided the most significant early blow, tripling home three runs against Tigers starter Phil Coke with two outs in the first. Hairston, who cracked the lineup as the designated hitter in an American League ballpark, had not tripled in nearly two years.

The Mets added an additional run on Pagan's RBI single in the third inning, before chasing Coke with four consecutive hits to open the fifth. That rally included an RBI double from catcher Ronny Paulino, batting cleanup for the first time this season, and a run-scoring single from Jason Bay, who walked four times and singled.

The 20 hits came largely thanks to Paulino and Pagan, who produced four apiece. Every Mets position player recorded at least one hit for the second consecutive night, and seven players recorded at least two, giving the team more hits in any four-game span since 1990.

By the ninth, Leyland had resorted to pitching a position player, Don Kelly, who -- somewhat remarkably, given the circumstances -- retired the only batter he faced.

"We've just made some miserable pitches the last couple nights," Leyland said. "That's simple. That's without any criticism or anything else. That's just not acceptable. You can't pitch that way and expect to perform the way you need to perform to win. That's the way it is with anybody."

Leyland's hope, and the hope of the Tigers, is that Justin Verlander -- the game's hottest starting pitcher, and perhaps its most dominant -- can change all that in Thursday's series finale. Verlander's name was on the lips of every Mets hitter following Wednesday's onslaught. They want to face him. They want to see how they compare.

They don't fret over Verlander's electric skill set because finally -- perhaps for the first time all season -- they are unequivocally confident in their own.

Now guaranteed series victories over two first-place American League teams, the Mets are mashing, plain and simple. They want to see how long this ride can last.

"I told the guys when the game was over how proud I was the way they've handled this entire trip," said Collins, whose 92-year-old father watched Wednesday's early innings from the stands. "Tonight was another example of their durability and their character. They're a joy to be around." Comments