LOS ANGELES — Credit Thor with the victory on the mound and at the plate.
Noah Syndergaard became the second pitcher in Mets history to hit two home runs in a game on May 11, driving in all of New York’s runs in a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I don’t think I ever hit two home runs in Little League,” he said. “To hit two home runs in a big league game, especially with a pitcher like (Kenta) Maeta out there, it was an ultimate experience.”
Syndergaard (3-2) allowed two runs and six hits in eight innings, tying the longest outing of his career, struck out six and walked one. He gave up five hits in the first four innings and then retired 11 in a row.
“This guy holds his velocity,” Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts said. “He was throwing 99 mph in the eighth.”
Nicknamed “Thor” after the Marvel Comics character known as the God of Thunder who possesses an enchanted hammer, Syndergaard swung a mighty black bat with his blond locks flowing beneath his helmet. He had to provide all the offense himself after his teammates produced just one run in his previous two starts.
“I do think this does add to the nickname,” he said.
Syndergaard hit a solo homer on the first pitch from Maeda (3-2) in the third inning, and slammed a three-run shot in the fifth. In that at-bat, Syndergaard tried unsuccessfully to bunt before Manager Terry Collins gave him the sign to swing away.
“When you’re supposed to bunt, you’d like to see him get the bunt down,” Collins said. “But if you don’t get the bunt down, you might as well hit a homer.”
Maeda had a stunned look on his face as he watched Syndergaard’s second homer go out. “He was in disbelief,” Roberts said.
Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager marveled at the feat, too. “Tip your hat to him,” he said. “Doesn’t happen often.”
Walt Terrell was the first Mets pitcher to hit two homers in a game at Wrigley Field on Aug. 6, 1983.
The last major league pitcher to homer twice in a game was Arizona’s Micah Owings, who accomplished the feat against Atlanta on Aug. 18, 2007.
Jim Tobin of the Boston Braves holds the modern-day big league record for pitchers with three home runs in a game against the Chicago Cubs on May 13, 1942.
Syndergaard came up with a chance to tie Tobin’s mark with the bases loaded in the sixth. Facing Chris Hatcher, he took big rips on his first three pitches, fouling off each of them.
With Syndergaard behind 1-2 in the count, Hatcher and catcher Yasmani Grandal convened for a chat as though Barry Bonds was at the plate. Syndergaard struck out swinging on his next pitch to end the threat.
He also struck out swinging in the eighth, taking big cuts in the six-pitch at-bat.
Jeurys Familia gave up a run in the ninth, but earned his 12th save in as many chances to tie for the majors’ saves lead.
Maeda gave up four runs and six hits in five innings, struck out three and walked two. He failed to pitch at least six innings for the first time in seven starts this season.
“He was using his breaking ball a lot and just didn’t have that sharpness,” Roberts said. “He was working behind hitters.”
Syndergaard’s power display gave the Mets 51 homers through their first 33 games to lead the majors. They’ve hit 49 in the last 25 games and also lead the majors with 35 homers on the road. On May 7, Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon hit the first home run of his career at age 42 in San Diego.
“He’s throwing 100 (mph) and he’s hitting home runs to the opposite field in Dodger Stadium. It’s legendary,” Mets second baseman Neil Walker said. “He’s a big strong kid. He’s Thor.”
The Dodgers tied it at 1 in the third on Seager’s homer. Grandal homered on Syndergaard’s first pitch leading off the fourth for a 2-1 lead.
Syndergaard had been 0-for-8 this season. He has three career homers — two this season. He had just four career RBIs coming in and doubled that total. His first career homer came last May 27 against Philadelphia, when he went 3-for-3.
(BETH HARRIS, AP Sports Writer)