SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Rene Rivera got a chance to play Sunday, and he made the most of it.
Rivera homered twice, Rafael Montero pitched into the sixth inning in a spot start and the New York Mets swept the sliding San Francisco Giants with an 8-2 victory.
Rivera hit a two-run homer in the second and a solo drive in the fourth. It was the first career multihomer game for the reserve catcher, who has played for five teams during parts of nine seasons in the majors.
“Working hard, the day I’m not playing I’m (hitting) down in the cage,” Rivera said. “During BP, you know I like to hit with situations, keep myself in the game mode. Today I just wanted to help the team win and do something good.”
Rivera shined defensively, too. He made a diving catch on Denard Span’s foul popup in the first inning, crashing into the fence behind home plate on the play.
Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce also connected for New York, which had lost four straight and seven of eight coming into the series. Granderson went 2 for 3 with three walks.
“You’ve got to get some confidence back and it all starts from the way we pitched,” manager Terry Collins said. “They kept us in the game, allowed us to build leads and we didn’t give up much.”
San Francisco has lost five straight and 12 of 13. Matt Moore (3-8) was charged with five runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Bruce added a two-run drive in the eighth for his team-best 20th homer, and Granderson went deep in the ninth. New York’s 46 homers in June are a franchise record for any month.
Montero (1-4) allowed one run and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked two while throwing a season-high 104 pitches.
Montero attributes the development of the changeup to what the Mets hope is a breakout performance.
“I feel just a lot more confidence in my pitching,” Montero said. “I think I threw well out there today.”
In his first game back after serving a six-game suspension for his role in a brawl with Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals, Giants reliever Hunter Strickland gave up the homer to Granderson and hit Wilmer Flores three batters later.
Buster Posey had two RBIs for San Francisco. Span and Hunter Pence had two hits apiece.
“These are tough times, no getting around it,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I’ve been around a long time, this is as tough as I’ve ever been around.
“The baseball gods are really testing this group. Enough is enough.”
New York infielder Asdrubal Cabrera had his third straight multihit game since coming off the disabled list after being sidelined with a strained left thumb. He went 7 for 14 with three walks on the series.
Cabrera played second base in his first two games after the injury, prompting him to request a trade. But he was back at shortstop for the series finale.
Mets: OF Michael Conforto suffered a contusion on his left wrist after getting hit by a pitch from Moore in the fifth inning. X-rays taken during the game were negative.
Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner (separated left shoulder) will throw his next bullpen session with the team in San Francisco later this week, Bochy said. Bumgarner was scheduled to throw a simulated game in Arizona on Sunday. … OF Austin Slater left in the seventh inning with tightness in his right hip flexor. … Utilityman Eduardo Nunez (hamstring) took ground balls Sunday and could be activated as soon as Friday, Bochy said.
Mets: After Monday’s off day, RHP Robert Gsellman (5-5, 6.04 ERA) will pitch the series opener against Miami. Gsellman has given up 15 runs in 9 1/3 innings over his last two starts. He is 1-1 with a 6.14 ERA in three career starts against the Marlins.
Giants: RHP Jeff Samardzija (2-9, 4.74 ERA) will pitch Monday’s series opener against Colorado. Samardzija is 0-3 with a 9.33 ERA in three outings against the Rockies this season. Six of Samardzija’s last eight outings have been quality starts.