New York Mets right fielder Juan Lagares catches a deep fly ball hit by Pittsburgh Pirates' Andrew McCutchen to end the top of the ninth inning of a baseball game at Citi Field, Thursday, May 9, 2013, in New York. The Mets won 3-2. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Thursday, May 09, 2013 11:45 pm
Mets catch up to McCutchen, beat Pirates 3-2
By BEN WALKERAP Baseball Writer
A very long out.
Center fielder Juan Lagares robbed McCutchen of a go-ahead hit with a leaping catch in the top of the ninth inning, then pinch-hitter Mike Baxter's single in the bottom half sent the New York Mets over the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2 Thursday night.
"I didn't think it was out, as big as this ballpark plays," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We were hoping it was out, but it's not out until it's out here."
It was 1-all in the seventh when McCutchen came up with a runner on second and two outs, and the Mets intentionally walked him.
At 2-all in the ninth with a runner on first and two outs, the Mets challenged the All-Star.
McCutchen hit a loud shot into faraway right-center field, toward the 390-foot mark. Lagares glided back, perfectly timed his leap and plucked the ball at the top of the fence as he rammed into the padded wall. It was a fantastic play, yet the rookie seemed so under control he made it look almost routine.
"I thought he was going to catch it at the wall. I didn't think I got enough of it to get it out," McCutchen said.
"You've got to hit a ball pretty well here to get it out. But like I said, I didn't think I got enough of it to get it even that far. I thought he was going to catch it at the warning track," he added.
Would it have gone out in Pittsburgh?
"More than likely. This is a deep ballpark," McCutchen said.
Baxter delivered his second winning pinch-hit in three days. His 10th-inning single Tuesday beat the Chicago White Sox.
This time, Baxter batted for Lagares and won it.
Marlon Byrd singled to start the Mets' ninth off Jason Grilli (0-1). Andrew Brown sacrificed and Baxter followed by grounding a single up the middle, easily scoring Byrd.
Bobby Parnell (4-0) pitched the ninth. The Pirates have lost four of five.
Pedro Alvarez hit a solo home run with one out in the eighth off Mets reliever LaTroy Hawkins that made it 2-all. Alvarez began the day batting .168 and in a 1-for-16 rut before a single, sacrifice fly and long drive for his sixth homer.
"He continues to take better swings," Hurdle said. "We all believe it's just a matter of time, and obviously, he's waited longer than he wants to. But we feel it's coming, absolutely."
Slumping Ike Davis put the Mets ahead 2-1 in the seventh after entering in the top half during a double switch. He took a terrible swing at a first-pitch slider, then hit the next pitch for an RBI double just beyond the reach of a sliding McCutchen deep in the right-center field alley.
Pittsburgh starter Jeff Locke left for a pinch-hitter in the seventh. He gave up three hits, all of them singles in the second inning.
The Pirates tied it at 1 in the sixth. They loaded the bases with no outs when McCutchen and Garrett Jones singled and Russell Martin was hit by a pitch, finishing starter Dillon Gee.
Reliever Brandon Lyon avoided major trouble, yielding only a sacrifice fly by Alvarez that made it 1-all.
The Mets scored in the second on singles by John Buck and Justin Turner and a sacrifice fly by Byrd. The run ended a streak of 15 scoreless innings on the road for Locke, a span that included outings at Dodger Stadium, Philadelphia and St. Louis.
NOTES: Martin had missed the previous two games because of a stiff neck. ... Pirates 2B Neil Walker (right hand cut) is starting a rehab assignment with Double-A Altoona. He can come off the disabled list Sunday. ... Pirates RHP Charlie Morton will throw a bullpen session Friday. He's recovering from Tommy John surgery last June, and had shoulder stiffness last week in a Triple-A rehab outing. ... Pirates leadoff man Starling Marte went 0 for 4 and struck out three times. He had scored a run in his past 10 games. ... Alvarez and Baxter both played high school ball in New York City and went to Vanderbilt.