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Mets overpower Pirates

| Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007

Nine-year veteran Matt Morris has three times as much experience in the majors as Ian Snell, Tom Gorzelanny and Paul Maholm combined. So there is much the oldest -- and also newest -- member of the Pirates' rotation can teach his younger peers.

"Some of his influence has already rubbed off," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said before Wednesday's game against the New York Mets. "I've seen them doing some things that are ... I don't want to say uncharacteristic, but there's a difference in the way they're going about their business."

No one said the lessons would always be easy, though -- for the pupils or the teacher.

The Mets tagged Morris (7-8) for five runs before he got the second out of the game. The quick deficit sandbagged the Pirates in a 10-8 defeat.

"When you put a team in a hole like that, it's tough for anybody to come back," Morris said. "The only thing I could do is suck up some innings, keep it the way it is and hopefully we score some runs."

New York hit Morris hard in the first inning. David Wright ripped a two-run double to right field, and Moises Alou smacked a two-run homer to left.

"It seemed like the game was going real fast for me, which is not a good sign," Morris said. "In the bullpen, I felt like I had good stuff. It felt like my arm was live."

Yet, despite the rocky start, Morris rebounded. The 33-year-old right-hander gave up just two singles over the next five innings and wound up with four strikeouts.

Morris needed 35 pitches to get through the first inning, but his tally was still only at 95 when the left the game after the sixth.

Morris pitched well enough to give the Pirates a chance to get back in the game, but they couldn't get all the way back.

"We don't have a chance of getting back in that game if they hit us anywhere after that first inning," Tracy said. "For Matt to bounce back and do what he did is the reason we got back in the game."

The Mets' lead was down to 5-4 entering the ninth, but they tacked on five runs against relievers Shawn Chacon and Damaso Marte.

The Pirates scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth against Aaron Sele. Jason Bay, who struck out in his first three at-bats, lined a two-run double.

Early in the game, Bautista and Nate McLouth tried to ignite a comeback by homering off Mets right-hander John Maine (13-7).

Morris contributed a run-scoring double, his third hit in six at-bats since being traded to the Pirates. Matt Kata blooped a two-out, RBI double in the sixth inning.

But the Pirates also struck out 11 times and stranded eight baserunners, four of them in scoring position.

With runners on first and second and one out in the third, Jose Castillo grounded out. Ronny Paulino then lurched at the first pitch and popped out meekly to short.

Jack Wilson began the fourth with a single to left. But first baseman Carlos Delgado made a diving catch of Morris' pop bunt and doubled off Wilson, who had no chance to get back.

It was the third time in four games a Pirates pitcher had bunted into a double play.

The blunder hurt even more when the next batter, McLouth, drilled a homer to right -- a solo shot that could have counted for two runs.

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