NEW YORK - (AP) Fernando Tatis did his best to put the focus back on the field, where the New York Mets are suddenly showing some competitive fire.
Tatis belted a pinch-hit grand slam in the eighth inning Monday night, and the Mets salvaged an otherwise miserable day with a 7-3 comeback victory over the Colorado Rockies.
"I was just trying to hit a flyball," Tatis said, "and it happened."
It was the third straight win for the Mets, who have struggled most of the season on the field and had to deal with controversy off it when they fired vice president Tony Bernazard during an awkward news conference hours before the first pitch.
"Once the game starts and we get to competing against the opponent, I don't think those things for a moment factor into what we do," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said afterward. "We can't waver for a second in what we do."
Tatis connected off Franklin Morales with one out in the eighth, the first hit allowed by the Rockies bullpen in four games. Juan Rincon (2-2) had loaded the bases by issuing walks to Luis Castillo and David Wright, then putting Jeff Francoeur aboard intentionally, before Tatis deposited an 0-2 pitch into the seats in left field.
"We got Tatis in a good spot," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "He threw a changeup, and another changeup. It's a flyball pitch and we didn't get it in the right place."
The pinch-hit slam was the first for the Mets since May 30, 2000.
Brian Stokes and Pedro Feliciano (3-3) pitched three innings of shutout ball for New York, and All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez worked a perfect ninth
Troy Tulowitzki hit a two-run homer and Clint Barmes also went deep for the Rockies, who lead the NL wild-card race and had won seven of their first 10 games since the break.
"We created opportunities, but we stranded runners tonight," Tracy said. "That's going to happen."
The day got off to a rocky start for the Mets when GM Omar Minaya called a mid-afternoon news conference to announce the firing of Bernazard, the club's vice president of player development.
Bernazard was dismissed after a series of high-profile incidents, including a heated argument with Rodriguez, challenging players at Double-A Binghamton to a fight, and berating a team employee over a seating mix-up.
Minaya's news conference then took a bizarre turn when he questioned the motives of beat writer Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News, who had reported on the recent turmoil and who Minaya said had lobbied him for a job. Rubin called the allegation "deplorable" and said he had merely asked Minaya and Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon for career advice.
"It's only my second week and there's been a lot of crazy stuff already," said Francoeur, who joined the Mets in a trade with the Atlanta Braves. "We had the TVs on and saw the whole thing."
Things only got worse when the game started. Oliver Perez put a runner aboard in the second and the hot-hitting Tulowitzki belted a pitch about 420 feet into the center-field stands.
Francoeur got one of the runs back with a homer in the fourth, his eighth of the season and third with the Mets, but Barmes quickly answered with his own home run.
"We had some opportunities," Barmes said.
Perez kept the damage at a minimum by stranding five runners over the course of two innings, working around four walks and a hit batter. The mercurial starter needed 103 pitches just to get through five, but left with the score still 3-1.
"It was a little humid and my uniform was all wet, but I made important pitches," Perez said. "They hit the mistakes I made."
The Mets quickly tied it on David Murphy's RBI single and Cory Sullivan's sacrifice fly, setting the stage for Tatis to hit his second grand slam at Citi Field and give the Mets their first three-game win streak since the end of the May.
And put the spotlight back on the field, at least for a while.
"That was awesome," Francoeur said. "It's been a rough season, but you sit there and say we still have 60, 65 games left. We can still make a run. Nobody on this team is giving up."
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