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Mets' Colon masterful in shutting down Pirates

Getty Images - The Pirates' Bryan Morris reacts as the Mets' Lucas Duda rounds third base after a two-run homer in the eighth inning on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, at Citi Field in New York.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>The Pirates' Bryan Morris reacts as the Mets' Lucas Duda rounds third base after a two-run homer in the eighth inning on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, at Citi Field in New York.
AP - Pirates left fielder Starling Marte fights with fans for control of a foul ball hit by the Mets' Daniel Murphy during the seventh inning Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Pirates left fielder Starling Marte fights with fans for control of a foul ball hit by the Mets' Daniel Murphy during the seventh inning Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
USA Today Sports - Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton watches as the Mets' Lucas Duda scores on a wild pitch in the second inning Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>USA Today Sports</em></div>Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton watches as the Mets' Lucas Duda scores on a wild pitch in the second inning Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
USA Today Sports - Mets first baseman Lucas Duda hits a two-run home run in the eighth inning against the Pirates on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>USA Today Sports</em></div>Mets first baseman Lucas Duda hits a two-run home run in the eighth inning against the Pirates on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
AP - Mets catcher Juan Centeno catches a pop fly by the Pirates' Chris Stewart for the final out Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Mets catcher Juan Centeno catches a pop fly by the Pirates' Chris Stewart for the final out Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
USA Today Sports - Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer (10) is unable to catch the ball as Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy reaches second base on an error in the third inning Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>USA Today Sports</em></div>Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer (10) is unable to catch the ball as  Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy reaches second base on an error in the third inning Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
AP - The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen beats the throw to first base as the Mets' Lucas Duda catches the ball during the first inning Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen beats the throw to first base as the Mets' Lucas Duda catches the ball during the first inning Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
AP - Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton delivers during the first inning oagainst the Mets on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton delivers during the first inning oagainst the Mets on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
Getty Images - Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez overthrows a ball hit hit by the Mets' Daniel Murphy in the third inning Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez overthrows a ball hit hit by the Mets' Daniel Murphy in the third inning Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
AP - The Mets' Daniel Murphy slides into second base as Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer loses control of the ball during the third inning Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Mets' Daniel Murphy slides into second base as Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer loses control of the ball during the third inning Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
Getty Images - Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen throws during the first inning against the Mets on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen throws during the first inning against the Mets on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
USA Today Sports - Mets third baseman David Wright hits an RBI single in the third inning against the Pirates on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>USA Today Sports</em></div>Mets third baseman David Wright hits an RBI single in the third inning against the Pirates on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
AP - Pirates starting pitcher Charlie Morton reacts as the Mets' David Wright rounds the the bases after homering during the sixth inning Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Pirates starting pitcher Charlie Morton reacts as the Mets' David Wright rounds the the bases after homering during the sixth inning Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
Getty Images - Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer can't make the tag as the Mets' David Wright steals second base in the third inning Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer can't make the tag as the Mets' David Wright steals second base in the third inning Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
Getty Images - Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon smiles after he grounded out to first in the seventh inning against the Pirates on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon smiles after he grounded out to first in the seventh inning against the Pirates on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
AP - The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen hits a single during the eighth inning against the New York Mets on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen hits a single during the eighth inning against the New York Mets on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in New York.
Getty Images - The Mets' Bartolo Colon claps as he walks off the field at the end of the seventh inning against the Pirates on Wednesday, May 28, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>The Mets' Bartolo Colon claps as he walks off the field at the end of the seventh inning against the Pirates on Wednesday, May 28, 2014.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 4:27 p.m.
 

NEW YORK — Prior to the Pirates' 5-0 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle materialized a scouting report to explain how 41-year-old Bartolo Colon had made a career of succeeding as a fastball-only pitcher.

In the visiting manager's office at Citi Field, Hurdle opened a three-ring binder to a page containing Colon's heat chart, a color-coded table that shows where a pitcher concentrates his pitches. In the strike zone was a cloud of red data points, showing where Colon most often has located his two- and four-seam fastballs.

Colon pounded the edges of the strike zone against the Pirates on Wednesday, moving his two-seam fastball in and out to generate called strikes and induce weak contact.

He threw 7 13 shutout innings, walking one and allowing five hits.

“Not a lot of balls in the middle,” Hurdle said. “We couldn't square him up.”

Colon struck out Ike Davis looking on a two-seam fastball on the outside edge in the sixth inning for his 2,000th career strikeout, the 70th pitcher in history to reach the milestone. Seven of Colon's nine strikeouts came looking via two-seamers.

“It's what always makes him effective: movement and location,” Davis said. “It just kind of jumps at you.”

Colon threw 121 pitches, 85 for strikes, in taking a series from the Pirates, who travel to Los Angeles and San Diego to finish their road trip.

Hurdle also referenced heat charts in explaining a staff-wide problem plaguing the Pirates: too many pitches up in the zone.

Pitch-location charts show Pirates starters often are missing up with location compared to last season, when pitches were lower in the strike zone, producing a historic rate of ground balls.

Charlie Morton made mistakes up in the strike zone — and out of the zone.

He walked Lucas Duda to begin the second inning, and with two outs, Duda scored on a wild pitch to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.

In the third, David Wright lined an elevated Morton sinker into left field for an RBI single, scoring Daniel Murphy, who had reached on a Pedro Alvarez throwing error.

Alvarez has struggled with throwing accuracy. He said after the game he is physically healthy.

“Pedro has had some challenges throwing the ball across the diamond this year,” Hurdle said. “I don't think there's anything wrong with his arm. He's been working to get more consistent.”

Wright smashed a mid-thigh Morton sinker for a sixth-inning home run to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.

“(Morton) gets ultracompetitive and overthrows a little bit,” Hurdle said. “The rhythm kind of comes and goes.”

Said Morton: “Some of my pitches flattened out.”

Morton fell to 1-7 on the season. He did not make it out of the sixth, allowing four hits, four walks, three runs — two earned — and four strikeouts in 5 13.

Morton enjoyed a velocity spike in his last start against Washington, collecting his first win, but his fastball velocity was back down in the 90-92 mph range Wednesday. Pitching coach Ray Searage said he and Morton have been working on generating more power from Morton's lower half.

“It's not a huge adjustment, but it is a physical adjustment, and there are going to be highs and lows,” Morton said. “(Wednesday) was just a day where I didn't have a lot.”

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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