Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 6/23/12

By Dave Buscema

The Sports Xchange

NEW YORK -- New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi has countered talk of his hitters' struggles with runners in scoring position this season by pointing out they are always a home run away from erasing the issue.

That's again what happened Saturday night as a pair of seventh-inning home runs helped them avoid a fourth straight loss and a second in a row to the Mets in a 4-3 Subway Series victory.

Raul Ibanez hit a three-run homer off Chris Young, and Eric Chavez later added his first career pinch-hit homer off Jon Rauch, as the Yankees erased a three-run deficit in front of 42,122, the largest crowd in Citi Field history.

"When you think about our club, they're in scoring position when they walk to the plate," Girardi said. "That's who they are. I can't make 'em run faster, but they hit the ball out of the ballpark and we win games."

It was the Mets' first loss in their last five games and it came along with some more bad news as manager Terry Collins reported after the game that closer Frank Francisco was injured.

Collins was uncharacteristically vague, declining to answer what kind of injury it was for Francisco, who created a stir with his comments about the Yankees being "chickens" before saving Friday night's game.

Collins said the injury occurred during pre-game exercises, but the closer later said he had a sore left oblique and had felt the injury Friday night, but it got worse when he tried to throw Saturday.

The Mets also scratched first baseman Ike Davis from the lineup with food poisoning and Collins said Davis became more ill as the game went on.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered for the Mets, but struck out in his last three at-bats, stranding five runners. Young continued the Mets starters' impressive streak, capping an entire turn through the rotation in which each starter began the game with at least five scoreless innings. But Young gave up the game-tying, three-run homer to Ibanez in the seventh before Chavez homered off reliever Rauch (3-7).

"It's a bloop and a blast," Collins said of the Yankees' lineup. "They can get to you in a minute. And Chris pitched a great game, absolutely a great game."

Clay Rapada (2-0) picked up the win, after recording just one out in relief of Ivan Nova, who allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits in 5 2/3 innings, but left trailing 3-0. Four more Yankees relievers followed, with Rafael Soriano earning his 14th save with a scoreless ninth. The Yankees bullpen struck out eight while 15 Mets fanned on the night.

David Wright extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a one-out single in the ninth, but Soriano struck out Lucas Duda and got Daniel Murphy on a fly to the warning track in right to end the game.

The Yankees bullpen also twice stranded at least the tying run when it was in scoring position late.

With the Yankees leading 4-3 in the eighth, David Robertson walked Omar Quintanilla and Josh Thole with one out, but came back to strike out pinch-hitter Justin Turner and Nieuwenhuis.

In the seventh, Yankees reliever Cody Eppley began the inning by allowing a double to Jordany Valdespin, who moved to third on Wright's grounder to second. But lefty Boone Logan came in and struck out Duda and Murphy, his slider dipping nastily on the swinging third strikes.

"Outstanding," Girardi said of the bullpen. "Outstanding job. Couple of big strikeouts by Boone. Robbie gets in there and he gets a couple of big outs for us."

The Yankees finally broke through against Young in the seventh.

After Mark Teixeira walked and Nick Swisher doubled on a ball right fielder Lucas Duda couldn't block after it bounced in front of him, Ibanez hit a three-run shot to right off Young to tie the game, 3-3.

"He knows how to get big hits and that's one of the reasons we went out and got him," Girardi said of Ibanez, an offseason acquisition.

Said Ibanez: "I was just trying to get a guy in."

Rauch came on to strike out Russell Martin, who left in the ninth with a stiff back and will be relegated to back-up duty Sunday, Girardi said. But Chavez then tagged the reliever for a homer just inside the left-field foul pole for a 4-3 lead.

Young had helped the Mets build a 3-0 lead in the sixth, when his two-out single to right scored Murphy, who led off the inning with a double. They had scored earlier on a RBI groundout by Quintanilla and Nieuwenhuis' seventh homer of the season.

NOTES: The Yankees' Nick Swisher recorded the 1,000th hit of his career with a double in the seventh inning. … Mets left fielder Jason Bay said he felt "astronomically better" in the last few days and hoped he could come back around the All-Star break, though he added he couldn't put an exact timetable on his return. Bay sustained a concussion on June 15 after crashing into the left-field wall, but said his recovery has gone much better than 2010, when he missed two months due to a concussion. "I know it took me a lot longer to get to this point two years ago than it did now, so I actually feel really good," he said. … Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he would not tweak his lineup Sunday night because of R.A. Dickey's knuckler. "You can't worry about that," he said. … Mets Left-handed reliever Tim Byrdak said he was seeking a home for "Little Jerry Seinfeld," the chicken he bought in Chinatown for $8 Friday and named for a chicken featured in an episode of the popular TV series "Seinfeld." Byrdak brought the live chicken to the clubhouse Friday in response to Frank Francisco's "chickens" comments on the Yankees. "A lot of people said they wanted to throw him in a KFC bucket," Byrdak said of reaction on Twitter. "That wasn't funny."


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