The Mets said goodbye to popular outfielder Carlos Beltran in the clubhouse, then pulled themselves together and won without him.
Time to move on.
Beltran told his teammates that he’d accepted a trade to San Francisco shortly before Wednesday night’s game, leaving a big hole in the New York lineup. Lucas Duda took his spot in the outfield and homered in an 8-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
Days of speculation about the All-Star’s future ended with congratulatory handshakes on the field after a third straight win.
“We’re exhausted by it,” manager Terry Collins said. “We’re exhausted talking about it.”
Early on Wednesday, Beltran got 24 hours to decide whether to approve the trade to the Giants, who need another slugger in their quest for a second straight World Series title. The Mets got their answer shortly before the game.
“He came over and shook everybody’s hands and said thank you,” outfielder Angel Pagan said.
Beltran was on his way to join the Giants in Philadelphia, where they finish their series on Thursday night. The deal was expected to be announced in the morning.
The Reds struggled after popular outfielder Jonny Gomes was traded to Washington right before the start of their game on Tuesday night. Cincinnati committed three errors in an 8-6 loss.
No such letdown by the Mets.
“Obviously, we’re a better team with Carlos Beltran,” said Mike Pelfrey (6-9), who pitched a seven-hitter for his second complete game of the season. “It’s unfortunate. But we’re going to go out there continuing to compete and continuing to win.
“Somebody in here said, ‘Hey, let’s make the playoffs, too.’ That’s motivation.”
Duda will get a lot more time in right field with Beltran gone. The rookie homered off Bronson Arroyo (7-9), who couldn’t extend his long run of success against the Mets.
David Wright also homered and drove in four runs. Daniel Murphy had a career-high four hits.
The Mets have won the first three games in the series against a Reds team that’s turned uncharacteristically sloppy. They had another error — their fourth in the last two games — and a passed ball that helped New York pull ahead.
The defending NL Central champions fell a season-high four games under .500 at 50-54, stranded in fourth place.
“It seems like it’s getting harder and harder to be optimistic,” Arroyo said.
The Mets moved two games over .500 as they parted with their best hitter. Duda — the club’s minor league player of the year in 2010 — let it sink in that he could be playing a lot more in an unaccustomed position. He’s more familiar with left field and first base.
“I’ll try my best out there and see what happens,” he said.
Collins didn’t hesitate to plug him into Beltran’s spot in right.
“He’d better get comfortable real fast,” Collins said.
Didn’t take long.
Duda opened the sixth inning with his second homer of the season off Arroyo, who has given up 30 overall, the most in the majors. It’s a bad sign for the Reds when Arroyo can’t beat the Mets. The right-hander was 7-1 in his previous 10 starts against New York, and was 5-0 in his last six outings against the Mets, allowing a total of 13 runs.
This time, he lasted six innings and gave up five runs.
New York blew it open with Wright’s three-run homer in the seventh off Jose Arredondo, making it 8-1. Wright has been on a hitting tear since he returned from a stress fracture in his lower back, going 12 for 28 with two homers and 11 RBIs in six games. He also had a sacrifice fly off Arroyo.
Pelfrey gave up Joey Votto’s solo homer in the fourth and Chris Heisey’s sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Notes: The teams conclude their series Thursday afternoon. They play again at Citi Field from Sept. 26-28. … The Mets haven’t swept a series in Cincinnati since 2003, when they took three games during Great American Ball Park’s inaugural season. … Beltran should be back in Cincinnati soon. San Francisco opens a weekend series at Great American Ball Park on Friday. … Arroyo’s 30 homers allowed are one shy of his career high. He gave up 31 in 2006 and 2009, both with Cincinnati. … Votto is 5 for 14 with three homers career off Pelfrey.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.