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Bartolo Colon pitches and hits his way to a victory

NEW YORK -- His at-bats are must-see events, so much so that there are days it seems that the biggest reason to watch the New York Mets is to see Bartolo Colon come to the plate.

But there's something else to remember when Colon comes to the plate: If he gets a hit, he's going to win the game.

Maybe it's just coincidence, but just as likely it's not. In the games when Colon gets a hit, he pitches better and almost always wins.

He had a run-scoring double Sunday, and he allowed three runs in seven innings as the Mets beat the Miami Marlins, 4-3. It was Colon's eighth win of the season, tying Felix Hernandez for the most in the major leagues.

It was also the third time this year he's gotten a hit and won the game.

Colon isn't the most accomplished hitter ever. He has 15 hits in 18 seasons, although quite a few of those were spent in the American League. His double Sunday was just the second extra-base hit of his career.

For his career, though, Colon is now 13-1 when he gets a hit. Since coming to the Mets, he's 5-0 with a 2.75 ERA when he gets a hit.

Sunday, in the two innings immediately after his double, Colon set the Marlins down in order, on five pitches in the third and on eight pitches in the fourth.

"I've seen him get that hit, and the next inning it's almost like he has a little more life to him," catcher Anthony Recker said.

Colon himself didn't have much interest in discussing the link, saying only that he'd rather the designated hitter rule was in effect.

"I'd prefer not to hit," he said through an interpreter. "At my age, I'd rather concentrate on pitching than on hitting and running."

He had to do all three Sunday. He originally came up in the second inning trying to bunt, but after two unsuccessful attempts, Marlins pitcher David Phelps threw a wild pitch that sent Recker to second base. So Colon swung away, and ripped a ball past Ichiro Suzuki all the way to the center-field wall.

For almost any other hitter, it would have been a triple, but manager Terry Collins joked that "I wasn't sure [first-base coach Tom Goodwin] was going to send him to second."

Colon said he wasn't concerned with Goodwin, especially when he saw the number on Ichiro's back as the Marlins center fielder chased the ball down. But Colon eased into second base, with no thought at all of going to third.

"No shot," he said.

By then, he was smiling, just as everyone in the ballpark (except for those wearing Marlins uniforms) was smiling. Every Colon at-bat seems to bring smiles, one way or another.

"We absolutely love it," Recker said. "How can you not?"

How can you not love Bartolo Colon, the pitcher who once again hit and won.