NEW YORK -- Nothing about Terry Collins' five-decade career in professional baseball has been easy. Why should the game in which he became the longest-tenured manager in New York Mets history be any different?
The Mets raced out to a big lead before barely hanging on to give Collins a win in his milestone game Saturday night.
Addison Reed wriggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth inning to preserve New York's 7-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels at Citi Field.
"After seven years of watching games like that, guess I might as well have that one be exciting, and it was," Collins said with a grin afterward. "I told (someone) before the game today I felt like I'm 50. I'm back to being 67."
Collins, who turns 68 on May 27, didn't age too much during the first eight innings, when the Mets raced out to a 7-2 lead in Collins' 1,013th game at the helm. He snapped a tie with Davey Johnson, who managed the Mets from 1984 until May 1990.
However, the ninth inning must have felt like a summation of his entire career to Collins, who batted .255 in 10 minor-league seasons and managed 1,559 minor-league games before becoming the Houston Astros' manager in 1994.
"Nobody in this room is old enough to remember me when I played, but I was a pretty intense guy and I took the game very serious, because I had to," Collins said before the Saturday game. "When you were my size, you had to play harder than the next guy."
And manage harder, too. The fiery Collins was fired after three seasons with the Astros and lasted fewer than three seasons with the Angels before resigning under fire in September 1999.
"Certainly, there's been a personality adjustment that had to be made," Collins said.
Collins served in a variety of coaching capacities before spending the 2010 season as the Mets' minor league field coordinator. He was hired in November 2010 to manage the Mets, who were in the midst of downsizing their roster.
Collins has never had a contract of longer than two years with the Mets, who finished below .500 in each of his first four seasons before reaching the World Series in 2015 and the National League wild-card game in 2016.
The skipper's calmness was put to the test in the ninth, when Neil Ramirez, making his Mets debut, allowed all three batters he faced to reach base before being pulled. Reed entered and issued a bases-loaded walk and gave up an RBI single to the first two batters he faced, Cameron Maybin and Kole Calhoun, respectively.
That brought up reigning American League MVP Mike Trout, whom Collins considered intentionally walking even with the bases loaded. But Reed got Trout to hit a sacrifice fly to right and retired Luis Valbuena on a popup before coming back from a 3-1 count to strike out pinch-hitter Danny Espinosa to post his sixth save of the season.
The Mets (18-23) earned their second straight win over the Angels (22-23).
Collins is one of three active managers who is his franchise leader in games managed. The others are Angels manager Mike Scioscia -- who was hired more than two months after Collins resigned in 1999 -- and Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost.
Scioscia and Collins were teammates at Triple-A Albuquerque in 1981, when Collins served as a player-coach.
"The one thing about Terry I just remember is how competitive he was," Scioscia said Saturday afternoon. "That's probably step one in what you need to do to have an opportunity to have been in the game as long as he has."
New York added three key runs in the eighth on a pinch-hit RBI double by Wilmer Flores and a two-run single by Jose Reyes, who finished 3-for-4 and collected his 2,000th career hit earlier in the evening.
"Really happy for Terry, he's been through a lot while he's been here," said Reyes, who won the NL batting title in Collins' first season in 2011 before leaving as a free agent and eventually returning. "I've got a lot of respect for Terry."
New York starter Zack Wheeler (3-2) allowed two runs, four hits and five walks while striking out five in five-plus innings.
Wheeler was chased after allowing the first four batters he faced in the sixth to reach base -- including Jefry Marte, who was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded -- but Fernando Salas escaped further trouble. The reliever sandwiched an RBI fielder's choice grounder by Ben Revere around two flyouts.
Angels starter Alex Meyer (2-2) gave up four runs (three earned), three hits and four walks while striking out seven in four-plus innings. He also singled in his first-ever professional at-bat in the third inning.
Overall, the Angels committed two errors leading to three unearned runs.
"We let too many things get away from us," Scioscia said. "That's the major reason we lost the game tonight."
NOTES: The Angels signed RHP Doug Fister to a major league contract. Fister was technically optioned to Class A Inland Empire, though he will actually head to Arizona for extended spring training. ... Mets C Rene Rivera went 0-for-3 as his 11-game hitting streak ended. ... New York LF Michael Conforto went 1-for-2 with three walks and three runs.