NEW YORK (AP) — Terry Collins had a grand idea: He slotted the Mets' top home-run hitter ninth in the batting order for the first time in nearly a half-century.
Wilmer Flores responded with a grand slam off Matt Garza that sparked a 10-run fourth inning, boosting New York into an 11-0 lead over Milwaukee on Saturday night.
Collins hit his starting pitcher eighth for the third time this season, and Jacob deGrom singled in his first three at-bats — including twice in the fourth. Flores followed deGrom's second hit of night by driving a 94 mph fastball into the left-field party deck, an area where the Mets brought in the fence before the 2012 season.
Flores' sixth home run this season, which tied a career high set last year, put the Mets ahead 6-0. New York had nine hits in the 32-minute bottom of the fourth, its highest-scoring inning since a club-record 11-run sixth at Wrigley Field on July 16, 2006.
New York's top home-run hitter had not been ninth in the order since April 30, 1967, in a doubleheader opener at Cincinnati, according to STATS. Don Cardwell, New York's starting pitcher that day, was in a seven-way tie for the Mets' home-run lead with one. Flores became the Mets' first outright home-run leader to hit ninth.
"I don't worry about the home runs," Collins said. "I wanted somebody who I believe is a good hitter who can get on base, so that the top of that lineup is coming up. And he was the guy that I thought in this particular case was the best fit."
New York began the day ties for 24th in the majors with 26 homers — less than half the total of the major league-leading Los Angeles Dodgers. Collins wasn't concerned Milwaukee would pitch around Flores, an infielder whose career high was six homers last year.
"It's not like he's Giancarlo Stanton," the manager said. "He's got power, and he's hit five homers, but if you want to pitch around him to pitch to Curtis Granderson, I'll take that."
Atlanta's Cameron Maybin (two) and Cleveland's Jose Ramirez (one) both hit ninth on April 17 while tied for their team's home-run lead, STATS said. Flores became a big league team's first outright leader to hit ninth since Houston's Jonathan Villar (five) on May 6 last year.
New York had not gotten a slam from a starter in the No. 9 hole since Jose Reyes in an interleague game at Anaheim on June 15, 2003.