NEW YORK — After a sensational start, the New York Mets made four errors April 26 and reverted back to the shoddy brand of baseball that’s led to six straight losing seasons.
That it came in prime time on national television under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium only made it more embarrassing.
Alex Rodriguez hit his 659th home run to move within one of Willie Mays for fourth place on baseball’s career list, and the New York Yankees took advantage of several blunders by the suddenly sloppy Mets in a 6-4 victory.
“Today wasn’t pretty. It was, obviously, the worst game by far that we’ve played,” outfielder Michael Cuddyer said. “When you make as many mistakes as we did today, you’re not going to beat good teams.”
Curtis Granderson hit a leadoff homer for the Mets, and slumping Daniel Murphy had a pair of RBI doubles off starter Nathan Eovaldi.
But an error by Murphy at second base set up the Yankees’ sixth run, and Rodriguez was handed an RBI on the next play when shortstop Wilmer Flores fired high into the photographer’s well behind first base, squandering what should have been a simple double play.
In the next inning, Eric Campbell forgot how many outs there were and was easily doubled off first base on a routine fly to right.
“Bonehead play,” he said. “It’s not on any coach. You’ve always got to know the number of outs. I just made a mistake.”
Campbell also committed an error at third base, and Cuddyer made one in left field that cost the Mets a run. It was an uncharacteristic performance this season by a surprising team that owns the best record in the majors at 14-5.
“In a game like this, you can’t make those mistakes,” Manager Terry Collins said. “Just a bad night for us.”
After falling behind early, the Yankees scored four times in the second and took two of three in the first Subway Series of the season. The crosstown rivals meet again at Citi Field in September.
“We’re going to bounce back from this,” Mets starter Jonathon Niese said. “You can’t look into it too deeply.”
Rodriguez connected in the first inning. He drove a 2-2 curve from Niese (2-1) to right-center, with the ball bouncing off the top of the fence and over for an opposite-field solo shot.
It was the fifth homer of the season for A-Rod, who sat out last year while serving a drug suspension.
“Willie was my father’s favorite player. I remember hearing about Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle all the time. He’s one of my heroes,” Rodriguez said.
A-Rod’s first chance to match Mays came in the second inning, when the three-time MVP doubled. He also grounded into a forceout and lined out to left field.
“The buzz was incredible,” Rodriguez said. “I just felt a lot of energy in the building, and it was fun.”
The Yankees have won eight of 10 after a 3-6 start.
Five relievers combined to throw 4 2-3 hitless innings for the Yankees. Chasen Shreve (1-0) earned his first major league win by getting Cuddyer to ground into an inning-ending double play with two on in the fifth.
Dellin Betances struck out three in the eighth, and Andrew Miller closed for his seventh save.
Niese allowed six runs — four earned — and eight hits in five innings. He had yielded no more than two earned runs in seven consecutive starts dating to last season.
“He didn’t locate anything in that second inning, and they made him pay,” Collins said.
(MIKE FITZPATRICK, AP Baseball Writer)