PITTSBURGH (AP) — The New York Mets missed out on a chance to even their record. Their manager wants them to set their sights higher.
James McDonald allowed two runs in six effective innings, Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run double and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Mets 3-2 on Saturday night.
New York (31-33) had won five of six coming in but failed to pull to .500 for only the second time since losing seven in a row following a 4-4 start.
“That’s not a goal, to get to .500,” Collins said. “Our goal is to win and win and win and to get above .500 — that’s our goal. We keep looking at the .500 mark; if we play good baseball, we’ll get there and beyond. But it can’t be, ‘Let’s just get to .500,’ because that’s not where you really want to be.”
McDonald worked around eight hits and three walks, allowing two runs.
He outdueled R.A. Dickey (3-7), who had his fifth consecutive effective outing. Dickey pitched a complete game, allowing three runs on eight hits and two walks with four strikeouts in eight innings.
The Mets are 26-20 since a 5-13 start and have won eight of 13.
“I really believe if we can just get over .500 that you’ll see us take off,” Dickey said. “Getting past the barrier would be very important for this team.”
Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run double, and Jose Tabata and Josh Harrison each had two hits and a scored a run. Garrett Jones had an RBI double among his two hits for Pittsburgh, which had lost its previous two.
Baseball’s leading hitter, Jose Reyes had two hits and Ruben Tejada and Carlos Beltran each added two hits for the Mets. New York lost for the second time in seven games.
McDonald (4-4) entered with a 1.09 ERA in the seven previous games he had won with Pittsburgh since being acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers last July.
“Even when I got in good counts, they were able to get decent swings on the ball, but the defence was able to pick me up,” McDonald said.
“It was outstanding defence. … They made some great plays behind me, and that was really, really big for me today.”
Tim Wood pitched a scoreless seventh, Jose Veras struck out Ronny Paulino looking with runners on second and third to end the eighth and Joel Hanrahan worked a perfect ninth for his 16th save.
“The one thing that I really feel good about is that these guys have grasped the idea of pitch and play defence,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “Find ways to score on offence, but pitch and play defence. It makes for a good game.”
Drawn partly by a postgame fireworks show and Huey Lewis concert, the Pirates drew 39,273, their fourth sellout of the season and third-largest crowd in PNC Park’s 11-year history.
The runs that proved the difference came in the third on a two-out hit by McCutchen with Tabata at second and Harrison at first. McCutchen was 0 for 3 with three strikeouts against Dickey May 31, and he grounded back to him into a double play in the first inning Saturday.
But his sharp grounder to third bounced and deflected off of David Murphy’s glove. Murphy attempted to backhand the ball, and it slowly trickled into left, easily allowing Tabata and Harrison to score.
“That’s an error — no disrespect to Dan Murphy at all; he’s a good player,” Collins said. “A very good player. He’ll make that play the next 10 times it’s hit at him. Every time. No doubt in my mind.”
Mets slumping outfielder Jason Bay was back in the lineup against his former team after Collins gave him two days off to get away from the game and work on his swing.
Bay went 1 for 4 with two strikeouts. He singled to centre in the fourth, his first hit in 25 at-bats. With a runner on and one out in the eighth, he hit a hard line drive to centre — right at McCutchen.
“I’m glad he’s back,” Collins said.
The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the first when Tejada scored on Murphy fielder’s choice.
Pittsburgh tied it in the second on Jones’ double into the deepest part of the ballpark, left-centre — the Pirates’ first extra-base hit in 21 innings.
The Mets loaded the bases with one out in the fourth but Dickey grounded softly in a double play.
In the eighth, Lucas Duda doubled into the right field corner with Angel Pagan on first. But Pagan was held at third. Paulino followed by striking out.
“I wanted to score from there,” Pagan said, “but right field is so short in this park that you have to hope for a bad bounce to have an opportunity to score on that ball. (Jones) fielded it cleanly and I didn’t have a chance.”
NOTES: A fan favourite here but part of teams that all finished last or next-to-last, Bay received mostly cheers — but some boos — during his first plate appearance at PNC Park since being traded in 2008. … Reyes, who turned 28 Saturday, leads the majors in hits.
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