2 big innings help Pirates break slump, beat Mets to open homestand
As teammates on a last-place club, the trade deadline could’ve seen Melky Cabrera, Starling Marte or Felipe Vazquez playing elsewhere this weekend.
Instead, Cabrera lined a two-run double off the bullpen fence and Marte hit a three-run homer Friday night as the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the New York Mets, 8-4, at PNC Park. Mired in an 11-game slide, the Pirates broke out with two big innings: five runs in the fourth and three in the seventh.
It was the team’s first game since Wednesday’s trade deadline and many familiar faces remained in the clubhouse. Vazquez, who was an option to trade, pitched a perfect ninth inning.
“The trade-deadline monkey is off of everybody’s back,” said starter Trevor Williams, who earned his fourth win. “Certain guys can (now) not stress about if they’re getting moved or not.”
The win was the team’s second in three games after nine straight losses. The uncertainty around the trade deadline — who leaves, who stays? — could’ve played a role in that slump.
“I’m not going to talk on how it affected certain guys — if it did — but it’s behind us now,” Williams said.
This was the opener of a six-game homestand for the Pirates, who have three games against the Mets and three against the Milwaukee Brewers. It drew 24,311.
The Pirates played without manager Clint Hurdle, who was serving the first of his two-game suspension for Tuesday’s brawl in Cincinnati. Bench coach Tim Prince filled in for Hurdle as acting manager.
“I’m glad the deadline’s over,” Prince said. “These guys can move on, get everything in a rhythm and move forward.”
Trevor Williams (4-4) allowed three runs on six hits in six innings – but his first three innings were far different than his last three.
Williams allowed all six hits in the first three innings. The Mets used a pair of first-inning doubles by Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso to score twice, and then added another run in the third to lead 3-0.
In the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, Williams set the Mets down in order.
“Having a first inning like that, and then coming back to put some innings together for the team, that’s huge,” shortstop Kevin Newman said.
Francisco Liriano, Richard Rodriguez, Kyle Crick and Vazquez combined to allow only three hits and one run in three relief innings. Liriano, another potential trade chip, recorded career strikeout No. 1,800.
Trailing 3-0, the Pirates rallied in the fourth when the first five batters reached base and all scored. The inning started with a Bryan Reynolds walk and consecutive singles by Marte, Josh Bell and Jose Osuna. Cabrera followed with his go-ahead double into the notch and later scored to lead 5-3.
The Pirates sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth and chased Mets starter Steven Matz (6-7), who lasted only 3 2/3 innings. The left-hander threw a complete-game shutout against the Pirates on July 27 in New York, but this time allowed five runs on six hits.
“He looked very sharp early, just like he did at their place,” Prince said. “Then in the fourth inning you get that walk, and then everything snowballed after that off him.”
The Mets cut the lead to one in the seventh when Michael Conforto singled and later scored on Newman’s fielding error. But the shortstop redeemed himself one batter later by throwing out Wilson Ramos on a hard-hit grounder, stranding a runner at third.
In the seventh, Marte cleared the left-field fence for his 19th home run, scoring Newman and Reynolds. The blast gave the Pirates an 8-4 lead.
The win improved the Pirates’ record to 4-16 since the all-star break.