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ARI@NYM: Hefner fans six over seven strong innings

NEW YORK -- Considering all the Mets have gone through over the past two weeks, Jeremy Hefner noted, "guys' legs should be dead." The Mets should be tired, beaten and battered, and should be displaying it on a nightly basis at Citi Field.

But the Mets have responded to their scheduled stretch of adversity with some of their best baseball of the season, winning more frequently than at any point since early April. That trend continued Tuesday, when Hefner outdueled previously undefeated D-backs starter Patrick Corbin, and the Mets plated a season-high seven runs in the seventh inning of a 9-1 victory.

"I'm not sure that they know what's going on yet," manager Terry Collins said. "We're all tired. I just think they know we can compete with anybody out there if they execute their game."

It was Corbin, not Hefner, who cracked in a matchup of surprising National League starters, even if most of the damage against him came after a one-hour, 41-minute rain delay. Corbin's night ended with the bases loaded, one run in and no outs in the seventh, at which time the weather interfered.

Back in the clubhouse, with the tarp on the field, the Mets quietly prepared to face Brad Ziegler, a ground-ball expert whom they assumed would be the first man out of Arizona's bullpen. They were right. And their work paid dividends.

Facing Ziegler after the delay, Anthony Recker singled, driving home the second run of the inning. Omar Quintanilla also singled, plating two more and closing the book on Corbin, who fell to 9-1. Eric Young then broke the game open with a two-run double, and Juan Lagares completed the rally with an RBI single.

"Everybody contributed," Recker said. "Everybody put together really good at-bats and did what we had to do to score some runs. It's just nice."

Added Collins: "We haven't had that in a while."

For the first four innings, Corbin was untouchable, justifying all the hype surrounding his breakout season. But Hefner was nearly as sharp, wriggling out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the second and growing only stronger from there. Though Hefner won only his third game of the season, he owns a 2.92 ERA in 13 starts since April 25 -- better than all but 13 National League pitchers, Corbin and Matt Harvey among them.

"I'm just making pitches," Hefner said. "Really, that's all that's changed."

Recker finally broke the scoreless tie with a solo homer in the fifth, though that lead was short-lived. Two innings later, as rain began pelting Citi Field for the first time, Martin Prado launched a solo shot of his own into the left-field stands.

The Mets did not take charge until the bottom of the inning, greeting Corbin with consecutive hits from David Wright, Marlon Byrd and Josh Satin. After Andrew Brown drew a walk to load the bases, still with no outs, rain intensified enough for groundskeepers to haul the tarp onto the field.

"It started to get pretty bad out there," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "That's the way it goes, the luck of the draw sometimes. We've all watched games on the East Coast, and when the rain starts piling up, you've got to find a way. It probably worked against us a little bit, but they were throwing in it, too."

That, for the Mets, was nothing new. So they are certainly glad to be winning these games, considering the schedule they have had to endure in recent weeks.

The Mets arrived back in New York past 4 a.m. ET last Friday morning, following an 11-game, four-city road trip to Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago and Denver. Then they played 13 innings against the D-backs on Monday in a game that lasted well past midnight, before battling them again for more than four hours Tuesday.

In total, the Mets have seen seven games postponed because of the weather while enduring several other long delays, leading to inconvenient makeup dates and multiple doubleheaders.

They are tired. They are gassed. And somehow, they are winning.

"I think it speaks to the guys in this room," Hefner said. "They want to win and they're going to do everything to prepare themselves to battle, and to give a good effort every night."

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