The Associated Press
New York Mets Michael Conforto reacts after injuring himself swinging at a pitch during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday in New York.
NEW YORK (AP) — Diamondbacks starter Robbie Ray knows how fortunate he was to be pitching on Thursday.
His club knows how lucky they were, too.
Ray returned to a big league mound for the first time since being hit in the head with a line drive last month, striking out nine in five innings and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the New York Mets 3-2.
“Very thankful that I didn’t get hurt any more than I did and I’m just glad to be back out there,” Ray said.
Arizona won three of four in New York, staying ahead of Colorado for the NL’s top wild-card spot with the victory.
“I thought it was a really special day for us and we won a big series,” manager Torey Lovullo said.
Ray was hit on the head by a 108 mph line drive off the bat of the Cardinals’ Luke Voit on July 28. He suffered a concussion.
“I was moving slow,” Ray said of his early symptoms. “The world was moving faster than I was.”
Reinstated from the DL prior to the game, Ray (10-5) allowed one run and two hits. Sporting a small scar just above his temple, the All-Star left-hander struck out the side in the first and held New York hitless for three innings. He is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA in four starts against the Mets.
“It’s good to have Robbie back. There’s that old familiar feeling that he was giving every one of us, just pounding the zone,” Lovullo said. “We really loved everything that he did. We welcome him back with open arms.”
Yoenis Cespedes led off the fourth with his 17th home run, a drive that traveled 440 feet into the second deck in left.
Fernando Rodney stranded two runners in the ninth for his 30th save and third in this series.
Rafael Montero (2-9) allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings.
A defensive lapse cost New York with one out in the fifth inning, as Ray put down a sacrifice bunt attempt toward the left side. Third baseman Wilmer Flores failed to charge the ball and by the time he threw across the diamond the pitcher was safe, loading the bases after a video review overturned an initial out call.
“I noticed that the third baseman broke back to the bag and the pitcher was kind of in no-man’s land,” Ray said. “So I started busting it down the line and was able to beat it out for a hit.”
Gregor Blanco and Ketel Marte followed with an RBI single and sacrifice fly, giving the Diamondbacks a 2-1 lead.
Brandon Drury singled to right in the sixth, chasing Montero with a soft flare that scored Paul Goldschmidt for Arizona’s third run.
The Mets cut it to 3-2 on Brandon Nimmo’s RBI groundout in the seventh.
Mets right fielder Michael Conforto dislocated his left shoulder while swinging at a pitch in the fifth inning. With two outs and runners on first and second, Conforto swung through a 95 mph fastball and fell to the ground. Writhing in pain and grabbing at his shoulder, the All-Star slugger stayed down for about 40 seconds before being helped to his feet by manager Terry Collins, trainer Ray Ramirez and a member of the coaching staff.
“It turns your stomach,” Collins said. “A player was having a tremendous year and really making a name for himself. To go down like that and that kind of injury is tough to watch.”
NOT A PROBLEM
In the fourth inning, Amed Rosario’s hard-hit grounder bounced off Ray’s left leg. He quickly gathered himself, picked up the ball and fired to first for the out. Lovullo and Arizona’s trainer sprinted out of the dugout to check on their pitcher, at which point Ray threw a couple of warmup pitches and continued with the game.
“I think we were all kind of holding our breath,” Lovullo said.
Diamondbacks: Nick Ahmed (broken right hand) will play shortstop with the rookie-level team on Thursday. The club plans to send Ahmed to Triple-A to continue his rehab if he feels good after the game. … RHP Randall Delgado (right elbow inflammation) will throw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Friday. … C Jeff Mathis (broken right hand) is scheduled to see an orthopedic hand specialist soon. Lovullo remains optimistic that the veteran backstop could rejoin the team at some point this year.
Mets: RHP Jeurys Familia (blood clot in right arm) is with the team and is expected to be activated before Friday’s game at Washington. … RHP Noah Syndergaard (torn lat muscle) will leave for Port St. Lucie to continue his throwing program, which includes live BP. … RHP Seth Lugo (right shoulder impingement) will throw a bullpen session on Friday and may start on Sunday against the Nationals. … 3B David Wright (cervical disc herniation) was scheduled to participate in baseball activities in Port St. Lucie on Thursday. … RHP Zack Wheeler (stress reaction in right arm) has been shut down for the season. … IF T.J. Rivera (partial tear in right elbow) continues to rehab his arm at the team’s spring training complex. … RHP Tyler Pill underwent arthroscopic elbow debridement surgery on Wednesday.
Diamondbacks: RHP Zack Greinke (14-6, 3.16 ERA) is scheduled to start as Arizona hosts the last-place Giants.
Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (13-7, 3.49 ERA) tries to snap a two-game skid against division-leading Washington, a span over which he has allowed 10 runs in 13 2/3 innings.