Ketel Marte tries to waken NL champion Arizona Diamondbacks from season-long slumber

NEW YORK (AP) — Ketel Marte hit the way he did last October, doing his best to wake the Arizona Diamondbacks from their season-long slumber.

Marte homered on Jose Quintana's third pitch of the game, then hit a go-ahead, two-run drive off Jake Diekman in the ninth inning that lifted the reigning NL champions over the New York Mets 5-4 on Sunday.

“He’s so incredibly talented," Diamondbacks closer Paul Sewald said. “We're so fortunate that he is motivated to try and make the All-Star team to play at his absolute peak. That’s all he lacks from being one of the top 25 players in the league regularly. So when he’s on, he’s on like nobody in the league.”

Marte homered twice, doubled, walked and was hit by a pitch, a big reason Arizona (27-32) headed home with its second straight win over New York following a five-game losing streak that dropped the Diamondbacks seven games under .500.

Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said Lily Sawdaye, a daughter of assistant general manager Amiel Sawdaye, had tried to boost his spirits this weekend.

“It’s still early enough for us to say, knowing that we haven’t played our best baseball, that we’re still OK,” Lovullo said. “Our assistant GM's daughter told me yesterday that the Philadelphia Phillies last year had the identical record that we had today or yesterday, I don’t know what it was. ... It's not doom and gloom. We're in a good spot.”

Philadelphia started 25-32 last year and finished 90-72, then lost to Arizona in a seven-game NL Championship Series. Marte was selected MVP of the NLCS after hitting .387 with three RBIs, including a walk-off single in Game 3. He set a record with a 20-game postseason hitting streak.

An All-Star in 2019, the switch-hitting Marte is batting .270 with 12 homers, tied with Christian Walker for the team lead, and 32 RBIs, tied for second.

“He’s a beast. Nothing he does surprises me,” Lovullo said. “He can change games with one swing of the bat or one great defensive play. And he wants to be in the middle of everything. That’s his personality. That’s who he is at his core.”

Pinch-hitter Gabriel Moreno led off the ninth with an opposite-field double over right fielder Tyrone Taylor and off the wall.

Mets manager Carlos Mendoza decided to have Diekman start the ninth rather than try to extend right-hander Adam Ottavino, who had pitched the eighth, or bring in right-hander Sean Reid-Foley.

“I’m great hitting both sides. I believe in myself,” Marte said.

Marte drove a 2-2 sweeper near the low, inside corner for a 439-foot drive halfway up the center-field batter’s eye for his seventh career multi-homer game — sending the Mets to their sixth loss since May 1 in which they led after the eighth inning.

Wearing uniform No. 4 on Lou Gehrig Day throughout the major leagues, Marte emerged from the dugout and pointed with both arms to friends in the stands as his double-stranded gold chain shined.

He has a .311 batting average with nine homers and 17 RBIs in 90 at-bats hitting right-handed and a .245 average with three homers and 15 RBIs in 143 at-bats batting left-handed.

“I hope people keep throwing lefties out there so he can keep hitting righty,” Sewald said.

Marte had made an adjustment to his swing after watching video on Saturday.

“The team needs me," he said. “When I play good, we’re going to win a lot of games.”

Marte has a .278 career average with 119 homers and 452 RBIs in 10 major league seasons. His four leadoff homers this year increased his career total to nine.

“Everyone in this league has known what kind of player he is for a while, and it's just a testament to him that he keeps doing it,” Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll said.

Arizona was 50-34 on July 1 last year, then fell to 57-59 before recovering to end up 84-78 and claim the NL's third and final wild card. Then the Diamondbacks got hot and reached the World Series for the first time since their 2001 title, losing to Texas in five games.

Pitching has been scrambled by injuries. Eduardo Rodriguez has been sidelined all season, Merrill Kelly has been out since mid-April and ace Zac Gallen got hurt Thursday. Arizona hasn't won more than four in a row.

“Our goal is just to win some much-needed games, much-needed series now and get some guys healthy and go on a run," said Brandon Pfaadt, who allowed four runs in six innings on Sunday.

Lovullo keeps reminding them the season is long and to think of last year's success.

“I think there’s something that is in front of us that we know how good it tastes and how good it feels,” he said. “That will continue to motivate us.”