Final Score: Pittsburgh 5, New York 3
Flushing, NY (SportsNetwork.com) – Gaby Sanchez’s clutch single in the ninth drove in the go-ahead run and helped the Pittsburgh Pirates claim a 5-3 come-from-behind win against the New York Mets in the opener of a three-game set at Citi Field.
Neil Walker lined a one-out single and Andrew McCutchen drew a walk to put two on for Sanchez, who smacked a fastball off Jose Valverde (1-1) that plated Walker. McCutchen came around to score after Curtis Granderson’s throw home was off target with Valverde failing to back-up catcher Juan Centeno. Russell Martin followed with a double to center to make it 5-2.
Valverde entered in the eighth inning with a 2-1 lead and two outs to try and secure a four-out save. Instead, he was tagged for four runs on four hits and recorded just two outs.
The Mets released Valverde and relieved hitting coach Dave Hudgens of his duties after the game. New York has lost nine of its last 12 games and has not scored more than five runs in any of those setbacks.
Tony Watson (5-0), who has made 13 straight scoreless appearances, pitched the eighth for the Pirates, winners of five of their last six.
Mets starter Jacob deGrom was in line for the win before New York’s recent bullpen woes continued. DeGrom allowed just five hits in 6 2/3 scoreless innings before handing the ball over to Jeurys Familia.
Familia froze McCutchen on a full-count slider with two on and two away in the seventh to maintain the Mets’ 2-0 lead.
Sanchez, who was pinch hitting for Ike Davis, homered to left field off Scott Rice to open the eighth and cut the deficit to 2-1. Rice retired the next two hitters before Starling Marte welcomed Valverde by smacking his first pitch for a two-out double. Jose Tabata tied the game on a line-drive, pinch-hit single to right.
DeGrom singled to keep the fifth inning alive and Juan Lagares followed with a walk. Daniel Murphy lined a base hit to right fielder Josh Harrison that plated deGrom for the first run of the game. Harrison’s throw to third was wide and LaGares rushed home but was called out. The umpires reviewed the play and it was overturned, giving the Mets a 2-0 advantage. Martin was called for blocking the plate with his leg without the ball.
Pirates starter Brandon Cumpton allowed two runs — one earned — on seven hits in six innings of work … Pittsburgh went 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position, while New York finished 1-for-8 with RISP … Prior to the game, the Mets placed outfielder Eric Young Jr. on the 15-day disabled list with a right hamstring injury and recalled outfielder Matt den Dekker from Triple-A Las Vegas … To make room for Cumpton on the 25-man roster, Pittsburgh designated pitcher Vin Mazzaro for assignment … In his first time back to Citi Field since being dealt last month, Davis, who finished 0-for-2 with a walk, received a positive reaction from the New York crowd.