Chavez hit his first home run in over a year to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning and Tatis, who sat out two seasons trying to figure out if he could still play this game, delivered a two-run double in the bottom of the 12th Wednesday night for an exhilarating 7-6 victory over the Florida Marlins.
It was the first time this season that the Mets had won a game in which they trailed after eight innings and the comeback left beleaguered manager Willie Randolph suitably excited.
"What a great ball game," Randolph said. "Hopefully that's the one that kickstarts us."
With his team staggering and beat up by injuries, Randolph was grateful to get help from anybody after three Marlins home runs, two of them by Cody Ross, left the Mets trailing 5-4 as they came to bat in the ninth. Chavez, a forgotten man batting just .203, got the comeback started with the first pinch hit home run of his career leading off the ninth.
It came against Florida closer Kevin Gregg, who blew just his second save all season.
"A fast ball middle in," Chavez said. "I was just trying to be on every pitch, to recognize what's coming and put the ball in play."
"We had the right guy in there," Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "What are you going to do? That's baseball."
By the 12th, Florida had the lead again, this time on a two-out homer by Alfredo Amezega, who hit his first of the year against Mets reliever Duaner Sanchez (1-0). Gonzalez had gone through six pitchers. No 7 was Justin Miller, who started off badly by walking David Wright. Carlos Beltran followed with a single to send Wright to third. After Miller struck out Damion Easley, it brought up Tatis.
"I thought I'd throw a fastball low and away, try to catch him off balance, try to get a double play," Miller said.
What he got instead was a two-run double by Tatis to win the game.
"You can't walk guys," Miller (1-2) said. "This was a game we should have won. I lost it."
Tatis, a late signing by the Mets this spring, sat out 2004 and 2005, unsure about his future in baseball. He is a handyman who can play just about anywhere and has been pressed into service in the outfield with injuries to Moises Alou, Angel Pagan and Ryan Church.
He loved being the hero.
"It's unbelievable," he said. "It's amazing. It's a great feeling."
Randolph thought things would turn out all right for the Mets.
"Coming from behind, we haven't been that good at it," the manager said. "But I had a feeling tonight about this game."
The NL East-leading Marlins lost despite hitting four home runs.
Ross continued his remarkable month of May, hitting home runs in consecutive innings and driving in four runs as the Marlins built a 5-4 lead. The two homers gave Ross 11 hits this month, nine of them home runs.
Florida's bullpen protected the lead until Chavez connected against Gregg.
Reyes opened the game for the Mets with a double, extending his hitting streak to 13 games. He then stole third and scored in front of Castillo's second home run of the season.
After Perez retired the first six Marlins, Mike Rabelo led off the third inning with his second home run of the season.
The Mets got that run back in the fourth against Marlins starter Scott Olsen when Beltran led off with a double, moved to third on Easley's single and scored on Tatis' sacrifice fly.
Ross opened the fifth with a home run that pulled Florida within 3-2. Reyes restored the two-run lead for New York when he hit the first pitch in the bottom half for his seventh home run.
- Reyes reached base for the 28th straight game.
- Tatis, ordinarily an infielder, made a tumbling catch at the right-field wall to rob Helms of an extra-base hit in the second.
- Beltran's fourth-inning double extended his streak of getting on base to 31 consecutive starts.
- Met pitchers recorded 16 strikeouts.
- Aaron Heilman pitched two innings for New York and struck out four of the six batters he faced.