Michael Cuddyer rebounds after return from DL

NEW YORK -- So how would New York Mets left fielder Michael Cuddyer sum up his seventh inning on Sunday?

“It ended up good,” Cuddyer said with a laugh after the Mets beat the Boston Red Sox 5-4 at Citi Field.

Cuddyer reacted late and had a fly ball drop inside the left-field line in the top of the seventh. The triple by Mookie Betts allowed Jackie Bradley Jr. to score the tying run. In the bottom half, Cuddyer responded with a single that plated Daniel Murphy with the decisive run.

Cuddyer finished 3-for-3 with a walk, RBI and two runs scored. He is hitting .375 since a DL stint for a bone bruise below his left kneecap.

In the first season of a two-year, $21 million deal, Cuddyer had been hitting a modest .250 with eight homers and 30 RBIs in 292 at-bats before getting shut down with the knee woes.

“Definitely it was a factor, but it wasn’t the reason I was struggling or whatever the case was,” Cuddyer said about the knee woes. “And it’s not the reason I’ve gotten some hits the last few days. But it’s part of it. There’s no question about that. It feels good. I’m able to plant on it. It’s stronger.”

As for the fly ball from Betts that dropped beyond his reach, Cuddyer acknowledged he “got a little bit of a late read on it.” Still, he suggested he would not have been able to reach it with a clean break.

“It was a ball I couldn’t get to,” Cuddyer said. “It dropped.”

Meanwhile, manager Terry Collins suggested Murphy stealing ahead of Cuddyer’s RBI single was the “biggest play of the game.”

On the first pitch after Heath Hembree was inserted to face Cuddyer, Murphy swiped second base -- placing him in position to score on Cuddyer’s single for a 5-4 lead later in the at-bat.

“I was watching him warm up and he seemed like he might be a little slow to the plate,” Murphy said. “And sometimes relievers will come in and the first one they’ll just want to execute the pitch, and then they’ll look to quicken up. So I just felt like I was going to take a shot right there, 0-0. And also if I run early, it gives Cuddy a chance to take it and still have pitches left.”

Said Collins: “You’ve got to surprise teams once in a while to win games.”

Cuddyer earlier had a slick baserunning play, too. His takeout slide at second base in the fourth inning prevented shortstop Xander Bogaerts from even releasing the ball on a would-be double play, although the Mets failed to take advantage that inning.

“I’ve been proud of that my whole career -- of playing the game the right way,” Cuddyer said. “I was taught that way by the right people coming up and I hope people appreciate it, because I appreciate when other guys play the game the right way.”