By MIKE FITZPATRICK AP Sports Writer=
NEW YORK (AP) _ Cliff Pennington hit an RBI single with two outs in the 15th inning and the Arizona Diamondbacks, boosted early by Gerardo Parra’s bunt double, finally outlasted the New York Mets 5-4 in a back-and-forth classic Thursday to split an exhausting series at Citi Field.
Arizona scored in the final three innings but couldn’t close out the feisty Mets until Brad Ziegler retired Kirk Nieuwenhuis on an easy grounder with runners at second and third to end a game that lasted 5 hours, 46 minutes.
Anthony Recker and Nieuwenhuis hit tying homers in consecutive extra innings for New York, which dropped its final home appearance before hosting the All-Star game July 16.
In a span of four days, the teams played a 13-inning game, a 15-inning marathon and two others delayed by rain for a total of 31/2 hours.
So it was only fitting that the finale went on and on throughout a humid afternoon as kids who lined up beyond the outfield wall in the eighth inning waited patiently to run the bases after the final out.
Cody Ross drew a bases-loaded walk from New York reliever David Aardsma in the 13th, but the Diamondbacks squandered a great chance to add on. And of course, with two outs in the bottom half, Recker homered off ex-Met Heath Bell to tie it again.
Arizona pushed across another run in the 14th on Martin Prado’s third hit, a bloop RBI single with two outs off Brandon Lyon.
Moments later, Nieuwenhuis sent a one-out liner barely over the left-center fence off Chaz Roe (1-0), who made his major league debut in the series opener Monday.
Recker, who caught the entire game, and Nieuwenhuis were both batting .167 when they connected.
Scott Rice (3-5) retired his first two batters in the 15th before Parra singled, Wil Nieves singled for his fourth hit and Pennington lined a single to left to make it 5-4.
Ziegler walked two in the bottom half but hung on for his first save since 2011 with Oakland.
And at last, it was over.
The Mets are no stranger to long games _ especially on July 4. They lost a 20-inning marathon at home to Miami last month, won a 20-inning game in St. Louis three years ago and came out on top in an Independence Day thriller at Atlanta in 1985.
That rain-delayed 16-13 victory is remembered best for Braves pitcher Rick Camp’s tying homer with two outs in the 18th and later the postgame fireworks that went off _ around 4 a.m.
By pulling out this test of endurance, the NL West-leading Diamondbacks finished 3-7 on a long road trip against three NL East teams.
Wearing alternate caps on the Fourth of July, the teams were back at it in 87-degree heat and humidity less than 13 hours after their rain-delayed game ended Wednesday night. Arizona put the leadoff batter on six times in the first eight innings but managed only Nieves’ two-run single in the fifth.
Mets starter Dillon Gee and counterpart Ian Kennedy, who matched a season high with eight strikeouts, kept the sluggish offenses in check for seven innings each.
Kennedy, making his seventh consecutive start on the road, won his previous four outings against New York. He is winless in five starts overall since beating the Cubs on June 1 at Wrigley Field. This was his second time out since serving a 10-game suspension for his role in the June 11 brawl at Dodger Stadium.
Gee, who entered with a .126 career batting average, lashed a two-out RBI single that tied it 2-all in the fifth. Omar Quintanilla scored after a one-out double.
Ross drew a leadoff walk from Gee in the fifth and Parra dragged a hard bunt through the right side. With second baseman Daniel Murphy cheating toward the middle and first baseman Josh Satin breaking back to the bag, the ball rolled into shallow right field before Murphy could retrieve it.
Ross scampered to third and Parra slid into second easily with a double. Nieves smacked the next pitch past shortstop for a two-run single.
David Wright doubled in the Mets fourth and advanced on Kennedy’s wild pitch before scoring on an RBI groundout by Marlon Byrd.
NOTES: Arizona will recall top prospect Tyler Skaggs from Triple-A Reno to start Friday night against Colorado in place of injured RHP Trevor Cahill (bruised right hip). The 21-year-old lefty went 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts for the Diamondbacks earlier this season. He was optioned to Reno on June 10. “He went back down there and got some more starts. He’ll have a better understanding of what he’s up against,” manager Kirk Gibson said. … Parra returned to the lineup in RF after sitting out two games. He was shaken up trying to make a diving catch on the warning track Monday, leaving him with scrapes and bruises on his face and arm. … RHP Zack Wheeler (1-1, 5.06 ERA) makes his fourth major league start when the Mets open a nine-game road trip Friday night in Milwaukee. … Mets pinch-hitter John Buck was ejected in the 12th by first base umpire Mike Everitt for protesting a checked-swing third strike.
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