Bucs revert to losing ways, fall to Mets
NEW YORK — The Pirates' nosedive toward another losing season continued, this time with a 6-2 loss in the series opener against the New York Mets on Monday at Citi Field.
Mets first baseman Ike Davis hit a two-run homer off right-hander Kyle McPherson (0-2) in the fourth inning, then hit a three-run blast off Jeff Karstens for his 30th home run of the season in the fifth. Davis' five RBI were a career high.
“I just failed to execute,” said McPherson, who is getting a look toward earning a possible spot in next year's starting rotation. “The ball got up and elevated, and being a good hitter like he is, he put a good swing on it.”
The Pirates dropped to 75-78 with nine games remaining this season.
Facing right-hander Jenrry Mejia, who was making his fifth career major league start and second of the season, the Pirates couldn't turn opportunities into runs in the first three innings.
Josh Harrison beat out an infield single in the first, then stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. He was stranded on third when Garrett Jones struck out.
Neil Walker led off the second with a single in the second. Pedro Alvarez hit into a fielder's choice, and Michael McKenry smacked a two-out single to left. McPherson struck out looking.
Harrison and Andrew McCutchen walked with one out in the third, but McCutchen was retired on a force play at second and Harrison got caught in a rundown for an inning-ending double play.
“He was making the turn, hit the grass and his feet just came out from under him,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “Nine times out of 10 on a ground-ball squared up like that, there's a double-play involved, you're probably going to make the round that way. He beats that play at first, you've got a chance to score. You see it happen every day. Unfortunately the way things are going right now this one backfired on us as well.”
The Pirates' offense barely made a peep again until the eighth inning.
The Mets took a 2-0 lead in the fourth. McPherson gave up a leadoff walk to David Wright, and Davis followed with his first homer of the game.
Despite throwing 82 pitches in the first four innings, Mejia lasted through the fifth. The 22-year-old allowed four hits, two walks and four strikeouts, and earned his first major league win.
McPherson was done three batters into the fifth inning after walking catcher Josh Thole, striking out pinch hitter Jordany Valdespin and yielding a single to Fred Lewis. Left-hander Hisanori Takahashi retired Daniel Murphy on a flyout, and Hurdle opted to bring in Karstens in relief. Wright delivered an RBI single, and Davis homered to extend the Mets' lead to 6-0.
“(Karstens) is the one guy who's seen all the hitters and has pitched to the middle of the lineup,” Hurdle said. “David Wright's a very good right-handed hitter against left-handed pitching. Takahashi got the out we wanted. We're looking for one more out in the inning and Jeff, with the big swing guys in the middle of the order, he's the one guy who can change speeds. I felt confident he could get the job done. Didn't work out.”
McCutchen hit a one-out triple in the eighth and scored on Garrett Jones' single. Walker picked up his second hit of the game, but Gaby Sanchez grounded into a double play.
Before the game, Hurdle said the Pirates let their identity slip away during their 5-17 September skid.
“You have to have ownership of your own confidence,” he said.
“If your confidence is as good as last night's result or the last series or the last week, that's not where you need to be to be a championship-caliber major league team.”
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7980 or firstname.lastname@example.org.