Grilli gives up winning run, as Mets beat Pirates
NEW YORK — The Pirates made the right moves Thursday but still got the wrong result in a 3-2 loss to the New York Mets.
“That's the beauty of this game,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “And it's the challenge that comes with it.”
Left-hander Jeff Locke turned in another solid start, allowing one run over six innings. He gave up only three hits, which the Mets bunched in the second inning to take a 1-0 lead.
Pedro Alvarez broke out of a batting funk with two hits, including a thunderous solo home run that tied it, 2-2, in the eighth inning, and two RBI.
Hurdle unleashed his three best relievers: Tony Watson, Mark Melancon and closer Jason Grilli. But Watson gave up a run in the seventh, and Grilli coughed up Mike Baxter's walkoff single.
“Those are our guys,” Alvarez said. “We'll live and die with them. There are games when you're going to come out on top, and there are others when you come out behind in the end.”
Marlon Byrd began the winning rally with an infield single. After Byrd was sacrificed to second, pinch-hitter Baxter produced the Mets' third straight last-gasp victory at Citi Field by rolling an RBI single up the middle.
The Pirates nearly scored a run in the top of the ninth. With Jordy Mercer at first base and two out, Andrew McCutchen whacked a fly ball to center field. Juan Lagares made a leaping catch at the wall to take away what surely would've been an extra-base hit.
“I didn't think it was out, as big as this park plays,” Hurdle said. “We were hoping it was out. But it's not out until it's out here.”
In the seventh, Hurdle had Starling Marte bunt Jose Tabata to second base, then called on Gaby Sanchez to pinch hit against reliever Brandon Lyon.
“I couldn't have asked for a better matchup, in my mind,” Hurdle said. “If he hits a single, we're up. Gaby is as hot against left-handed pitching as anybody on our team.”
Sanchez flew out to left field. After McCutchen was intentionally walked, Garrett Jones struck out.
Mets right-hander Dillon Gee went into the game with an unsightly 6.16 ERA and had tied a franchise record with four losses in April.
A dramatic difference between Gee's home and road split stats helps explain his mediocre numbers. In his four starts at Citi Field, Gee has put up a 2.35 ERA with one home run allowed and 17 strikeouts. In three road starts, he has an 11.37 ERA with four homers and five strikeouts.
Gee worked five-plus innings and gave up five hits, all singles. But he left the game in the sixth, when the Pirates tied it at 1-1 and got a no-decision.
Locke also turned in a strong start and got nothing to show for it. The left-hander worked six innings and yielded a run on three hits, walked three and struck out three.
The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. John Buck snapped an 0-for-14 slump with a leadoff single. Buck went to third base on Justin Turner's single, but Turner was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.
Byrd hit a sacrifice fly to right. The ball wasn't especially deep, but Buck scored easily when Travis Snider's throw sailed over the head of catcher Russell Martin and had to be snagged by Locke backing up the play.
The Pirates threatened with two outs in the third. Snider walked and went to third on McCutchen's single, which was the Pirates' first hit of the game. Jones flew out.
In the fourth, Alvarez got his first hit in 16 at-bats, a slow-rolling infield single. Inge then bounced into an inning-ending double play.
Locke's command slipped at times in the middle innings — from the second to the fourth, he walked three of eight batters he faced. But the left-hander was good at damage control, as none of those runners made it any further than second base.
The jury is still out as to whether control will be an ongoing bugaboo for Locke, who is averaging 4.31 walks per nine innings pitched.
He averaged 2.5 walks per nine innings pitched in the minors. His average was 5.4 walks in four starts as a rookie in 2011. Last year, Locke pitched in eight games and lowered his walk rate to 2.9.
Locke walked Turner to start the fourth inning, then retired the next nine in a row.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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