By WILL GRAVES AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Neil Walker scored on Clint Barmes’
tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning and the Pittsburgh
Pirates rallied against Johan Santana and the New York Mets for a
5-4 victory Monday night.
Mike McKenry tied it with a two-run homer in the seventh off
Santana and Walker made it all the way to third in the eighth when
his long drive off Jon Rauch (3-3) glanced off the glove of center
fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis for an error and rolled to the wall. One
batter later, Barmes hit a fly to right and Walker just beat the
wide throw from Lucas Duda.
Jared Hughes (1-0) earned his first major league win in relief.
Joel Hanrahan worked the ninth for his 10th save.
David Wright had two hits for the Mets to lift his batting
average to a major league-best .415. Ex-Pirate Ronny Cedeno added
two hits but New York committed three errors and lost for the fifth
time in seven games.
Santana has shown flashes this season of the form that made him
a two-time AL Cy Young Award winner, though it has rarely
translated into victories. He began the night with five
no-decisions, tied for third-most in the National League.
The Mets, who have struggled scoring runs when Santana is on the
mound, staked him to a 4-0 lead in the second when Pirates starter
Erik Bedard temporarily lost the impeccable command that has given
the top of Pittsburgh’s rotation a steady presence this season.
Vinny Rottino, called up from the minors earlier in the day,
singled with one out and Cedeno _ a former Pittsburgh shortstop who
signed with the Mets in the offseason and was booed constantly _
doubled to right-center to give New York the lead.
Two walks sandwiched around a sacrifice bunt loaded the bases
and Justin Turner delivered a two-run single. Wright followed with
a RBI single and the Mets appeared in business against the Pirates,
who entered the game 6-20 when allowing an opponent to score at
least four runs.
Pittsburgh chipped away in the fourth thanks to three
consecutive doubles by Josh Harrison, Andrew McCutchen and Pedro
Alvarez _ who recorded just the fifth hit by a left-handed batter
off Santana this season.
Santana escaped the fourth when McKenry hit into a double play,
though the backup catcher atoned in the seventh, taking an 87 mph
fastball and drilling it into the seats in left to tie the game.
Santana gave up four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings,
walking two and striking out seven.
The Mets then did their best to give it away.
Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter both entered as pinch-hitters in the
eighth and then moved to the outfield in the bottom half, with
Nieuwenhuis in center and Baxter in left.
Walker didn’t wait long to test them, hitting a long fly to
left-center. Nieuwenhuis appeared to call off Baxter but the two
outfielders were standing next to each other when the ball ticked
off Nieuwenhuis’ glove as Walker raced to third.
Rauch struck out Casey McGehee, but Barmes followed with a
sacrifice fly just deep enough to let Walker slide under the tag of
catcher Mike Nickeas.
NOTES: Mets C Josh Thole, on the 7-day disabled list with a
concussion, has been cleared to begin baseball activities but there
is no timetable for his return. … Pittsburgh starting pitcher
Jeff Karstens worked three scoreless innings in a rehab start at
Double-A Altoona. Karstens gave up two hits and had one strikeout.
Karstens has been on the disabled list since April 17 with right
shoulder inflammation. … The series continues Tuesday, with New
York knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (5-1, 3.75 ERA) facing Pittsburgh’s
James McDonald (3-2, 2.68).
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)