Pete Alonso homered again, pinch-hitter Jeff McNeil broke a tie with a two-run double and the New York Mets beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 on Sunday in a successful debut for new starter Rich Hill.
Acquired from Tampa Bay in a trade Friday, the 41-year-old Hill gave New York’s injury-thinned rotation precisely the boost the NL East leaders were seeking.
Five relievers followed Hill and held Toronto to one run over four innings. Edwin Diaz struck out three in a hitless ninth, fanning cleanup batter Bo Bichette on a full-count slider with a runner on second for his 21st save in 26 chances.
Hill threw only 49 pitches over the first five innings and worked around three leadoff doubles, carrying a four-hit shutout into the sixth before running into trouble the third time through Toronto’s power-packed lineup.
The veteran curveballer, pitching for his 11th team in 17 major-league seasons, let the first three batters reach in the sixth and was removed. He walked off the mound with the bases loaded to a warm ovation from the Citi Field crowd of 23,675.
Seth Lugo (3-1) allowed all three inherited runners to score, two on Bichette’s two-run single, as the Blue Jays took a 3-1 lead. But then Lugo limited the damage, and Alonso tied it in the bottom half with a two-run drive off reliever Ryan Borucki and looked into the Mets’ dugout with his palms up as he began rounding the bases.
Alonso hit three homers as New York took two of three in the series. He has five home runs since the all-star break, when he repeated as Home Run Derby champion.
McNeil gave the Mets a 5-3 lead later in the inning and extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games with a shot to the right-center gap off Jacob Barnes (1-2), who was traded by the Mets to the Blue Jays in June.
Toronto trimmed it to 5-4 in the eighth on a run-scoring single by Teoscar Hernandez off Trevor Mat, who combined with Aaron Loup to escape a bases-loaded, one-out jam. Loup retired Cavan Biggio on a fly ball to end the inning.
Toronto stranded nine runners, finished 14-4 in interleague play this season and fell to 2-14 all-time against the Mets in Queens.
Blue Jays right-hander Thomas Hatch is expected to make his season debut Monday night at Boston against RHP Nick Pivetta (8-4, 4.37 ERA) in the opener of a four-game series.