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J.D. Martinez leads suddenly hot Mets to fourth straight win

J.D. Martinez has said multiple times in recent days that the Mets suddenly started playing with “no pressure” and as if other teams were “counting us out.”

Martinez continued his recent hot streak by hitting two more home runs in a 5-1 win over the Padres at Citi Field on Saturday, helping Jose Quintana get off to his best start of the season.

Carlos Mendoza’s team has won four straight games and 10 of its past 14. Martinez hit a walk-off homer against the Marlins on Thursday and then scored two runs the next day in a 2-1 victory over San Diego in the first game of a three-game series.

J.D. Martinez hit another home run on a great day for the Mets. Jason Senes, New York Post

“I think it’s good for us to continue to play easy and take every day and every game seriously,” Mendoza said. “At the same time, we’re going to be easygoing, have fun, be prepared and accountable, and encourage each other to do our jobs the right way.”

“And that’s exactly what they’re doing. When the games start, they go out there and compete and do their best, and the results are good. Hopefully the players will continue to have fun, continue to prepare, go out there and perform well.”

Mendoza and the Mets (32-37) were hoping Quintana would do that, but at least stick around longer than he gave up six runs over a combined 7 2/3 innings in June against the Diamondbacks and Phillies.

JD Martinez reacts after hitting a two-run home run against the San Diego Padres. Jason Senes, New York Post

The $26 million left-hander pitched six innings on Saturday, allowing two hits and one run with two walks and six strikeouts.

Before the game, Mendoza said he was optimistic that Quintana would perform better despite having just one win and a 5.29 ERA in his first 13 games this season.

Jose Quintana was great on the mound. Jason Senes, New York Post

“He’s been through something like this before,” Mendoza said, “so just believe in your abilities and be confident. I’m pretty confident Quintana will put on a quality fight.”

Quintana pitched no runs in each of the first four innings, striking out nine consecutive batters after a one-out double by Fernando Tatis Jr. in the first inning.

Still, the Mets couldn’t score early on, despite Padres rookie starting pitcher Adam Mazur issuing six walks through the third inning.

They were hitless in five at-bats with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base through the first three innings, including two with the bases loaded.

Still, the Mets showed some strong defense in the fourth inning, including Brandon Nimmo reaching into the stands to catch a foul ball, to keep the score at zero.

Francisco Lindor also ran to left and got a no-look backhand flip or force play to second baseman Jeff McNeil to end the inning.

Francisco Lindor celebrates after hitting a double. Jason Senes, New York Post

Lindor and Nimmo teamed up offensively to score the Mets’ first run in the fourth inning, driving in Mazur on consecutive doubles with two outs for a 1-0 lead.

Martinez then hit a home run to right-center field off former Yankees right-hander Johnny Brito with a full count to give the Tigers a three-run lead.

Jackson Merrill hit a first-pitch solo home run against Quintana with one out in the fifth inning to get the Padres back on track.

Brandon Nimmo scored the first run for the Mets. Jason Senes, New York Post

Still, Quintana struck out three in the inning and maintained a 3-1 lead through the sixth inning after throwing 88 pitches.

Martinez hit a leadoff home run the other way off Eniel de los Santos in the bottom half for his eighth home run of the season and a 4-1 lead.

The veteran DH recorded three hits in three at-bats and two walks, giving him 11 RBIs in his past seven games.

Up-and-coming relief pitcher Dedniel Nunez took to the mound in the seventh and recorded six outs, before Reid Garrett pitched the ninth inning after Nimmo had added a run in the previous inning to take a four-run lead.