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Antonio Bastardo bails Mets out of bases-loaded jam, awarded belt

SAN DIEGO -- The wrestling-style belt the New York Mets award to the player of the game after wins rightfully rested in left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo's locker Sunday.

With the Mets clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth, Bastardo inherited the inning with the bases loaded and none out from Jerry Blevins and Addison Reed. Bastardo proceeded to keep the San Diego Padres off the scoreboard.

Once Jeurys Familia's locked down the ninth inning, the Mets completed a 4-3 win at Petco Park to move into first place in the National League East.

All 15 pitches that Bastardo threw during his appearance were fastballs. He struck out Derek Norris, retired Melvin Upton Jr. on a popout to first base and struck out Alexei Ramirez.

Catcher Kevin Plawecki wildly pumped his fist after the Mets escaped the jam.

“He’s got a lot of late life on that fastball,” Plawecki said. “Given the hitters that were up and given the way that pitch was working today, it was the best pitch to stick with.”

Said Bastardo: “They were waiting for something else, but we got them with the fastball. … I just feel comfortable with my fastball. I don’t even check the velocity or whatever. I just feel a lot of confidence with my fastball.”

Manager Terry Collins felt compelled to turn to Bastardo with the bases loaded rather than stick with Reed in part because Reed was pitching for a third straight day. Collins also liked Bastardo’s numbers against Norris (0-for-2), whom the Mets expected would pinch hit, as well as Upton (0-for-6) and Ramirez (0-for-1).

“He kept the ball away and up -- tough balls to get on top of,” Collins said. “He’s got real good numbers against a couple of those guys he faced. And it showed again today.”