ANAHEIM -- Coming off an 11-inning loss Friday night and nursing a tired bullpen, the last thing the Mets needed was another lengthy affair at Angel Stadium.
This one turned out to be even longer than the night before, though not nearly as painful. New York's tired 'pen initially folded, but ultimately held firm long enough for Anthony Recker to hit a game-winning homer against Matt Shoemaker in the 13th inning Saturday, leading the Mets to a 7-6 win over the Angels.
"It was a fun game, long game," Recker said. "I'm just glad we got the win. Getting the win tonight and being able to contribute was pretty cool."
After trading zeros with the Angels from the 10th through 12th innings, the Mets finally broke through when Recker -- starting behind the plate to give Travis d'Arnaud a routine off-day -- led off the 13th by blasting a 1-1 fastball over the left-field seats. John Lannan pitched a scoreless 12th and 13th for the victory, retiring Mike Trout on a line drive to end things.
The Mets appeared to be cruising to a much easier victory until the bottom of the ninth, when Raul Ibanez's three-run homer off closer Jose Valverde tied the game at 6, sending things to extra innings for a second consecutive night. After recording two quick outs to open the inning, Valverde gave up David Freese's single and walked Erick Aybar, before Ibanez launched his no-doubter into the right-field stands.
"It's great to be able to pick him up," Recker said of Valverde. "Let's face it -- he's a pretty darn good pitcher. He wasn't able to come through tonight, but I know he will next time."
Valverde, for his part, already seemed to be over his first blown save of the season.
"Who won? The Mets," he said. "It doesn't matter how."
The Mets extended their initial cushion to three on Omar Quintanilla's two-run single in the top of the ninth, after Recker provided their first lead of the game with his own two-run single in the seventh. Typically bench players, Recker and Quintanilla made the most of their rare opportunities in the starting lineup by going a combined 5-for-11 with 5 RBIs.
"That's what you hope happens when you give those guys a chance to play, is that they rise to the occasion," manager Terry Collins said. "They came up big."
Considering the state of their exhausted bullpen, the Mets also hoped that would be enough. Collins knew coming into the game that if Jon Niese did not give him a strong start, his entire team would be in trouble.
Niese, for his part, obliged with his longest outing since last August. The left-hander pitched into the eighth inning, giving up three runs and striking out five over 7 1/3 innings. Niese may not have been his dominant best, but worked his way out of jams by saving his most effective pitches for critical spots.
In the first inning, for example, after Albert Pujols drove home Collin Cowgill with an RBI single, Niese coaxed a 6-4-3 double play to halt things there. That keyed his best stretch of the game, a 13-batter run that ended when Chris Iannetta homered with two outs in the fifth.
An inning later, Cowgill led off with a home run and Trout followed with a double. But Niese quickly buzzed through the heart of the Angels' order on a popup, a strikeout and a flyout to strand Trout in scoring position. He then took advantage of strong defensive plays by Ike Davis and David Wright to work around a leadoff walk in the seventh, departing after retiring the only man he faced in the eighth.
"You go into it with the same mindset, getting early outs and trying to be as efficient as possible," Niese said. "It worked out pretty good."
Angels starter Jered Weaver was also strong for much of the game despite lacking his usual control. Throwing nearly as many balls (49) as strikes (50), Weaver allowed his first run on Lucas Duda's homer in the second, then nothing else until Juan Lagares' RBI single chased him in the seventh. The two runs that Recker drove in off Fernando Salas were also charged to Weaver.
But by the 13th, that was all ancient history for a Mets team able to shove Friday night's disappointment into the past.
"It's a very encouraging sign," Collins said. "They've had a tough first few weeks of the season. We got off to a slow start. But that's what this game's about at this level. You've got to be tough and you've got to have thick skin because there's going to be tough nights that you've got to endure, and you've got to come back the next day."