NEW YORK — Expected to be an ace, Mike Pelfrey pitched that way against the San Francisco Giants.
The fact that the defending World Series champions trotted out a limited lineup, well, no matter to the New York Mets.
Pelfrey stayed strong into the eighth inning, Carlos Beltran homered and the Mets averted a Giants sweep with a 5-2 win on Thursday.
Pelfrey (2-3), supposed to anchor the Mets’ rotation while injured Johan Santana recovers this year, began the day with a 7.39 ERA.
“I was overthrowing it, trying to do too much, trying to make things happen,” Pelfrey said.
This outing was smoother from the start, and he gave up one earned run and four hits in 7 2/3 innings.
As he told pitching coach Dan Warthen: “It felt like it clicked again. Almost effortless.”
San Francisco loaded the bases with one out in the ninth against Francisco Rodriguez, but Miguel Tejada struck out and pinch-hitter Buster Posey grounded out. Rodriguez got four outs and hung on for his seventh save.
“I’ve seen it before, this guy needs some tension, he needs to be on the edge,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “I wish he wouldn’t do that. I’m too old to watch this stuff.”
Jose Reyes lined a two-run triple and the Mets took advantage of more wildness from Jonathan Sanchez (2-2) to win for the second time in seven games.
The Giants were trying to sweep the Mets for the first time since 2002. But they also were finishing up a stretch where they played 16 of 19 games on the road.
Posey and Pat Burrell did not start and Freddy Sanchez sat with a sore right thumb. Minus several other injured players, the Giants slipped back under .500 at 15-16 — so far, they’ve played 22 road games.
“It’s good to be heading home,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Mike Fontenot homered with two outs in the fourth for San Francisco’s first hit. The Giants’ fill-in No. 3 hitter sent a drive into the second deck in right field — a fan up there made a hefty heave, tossing the souvenir nearly back to first baseman Ike Davis. An inning earlier, Mets second baseman Chin-lung Hu missed Davis by nearly 10 feet on a routine throw.
Known for his shaky control, Sanchez walked six while giving up five runs and five hits in five innings. Beltran hit a two-run homer in the fifth for a 5-2 lead.
“I’m not getting anything over the plate,” Sanchez said. “I try to do my best. Nothing’s working right now.”
Bochy said he planned to talk with Sanchez on Friday about his troubles. Sanchez said he’s OK physically.
“Your No. 2 spot in the rotation, you’ve got to be better than this,” Bochy said. “It’s not a great day for Johnny.”
“It just looks like a lack of concentration. He’s drifting mentally,” he said.
The Mets scored three times in the second, taking advantage when Sanchez couldn’t find the strike zone and San Francisco outfielders couldn’t corral the ball.
Jason Bay, fresh off the paternity leave list, opened with a double that bounced from the glove of diving left fielder Cody Ross. Davis followed with a looper that fell a step in front of Ross for a single.
Ronny Paulino’s double-play grounder scored a run and Sanchez walked Scott Hairston — batting .176 this season — and Pelfrey, a career .090 hitter. Reyes followed with a liner that skipped just beyond center fielder Aaron Rowand for a two-run triple and a 3-0 lead.
A day after his name surfaced in a Mets-to-Giants trade rumor, Reyes had a mixed afternoon. The All-Star shortstop streaked around the bases on his triple, but argued after being called out on strikes to end the fourth, then made a throwing error on the first play in the fifth.
“Maybe I was a little bit angry,” Reyes said.