By MIKE FITZPATRICK
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ David Wright broke the New York Mets’ record for
hits and Jeremy Hefner bounced back from a horrendous start in a
6-0 victory over Pittsburgh on Wednesday night that eliminated the
Pirates from playoff contention.
Ruben Tejada tied a career high with four hits, including two
RBI singles, and Scott Hairston doubled home a run as the Mets took
advantage of some shoddy Pittsburgh defense to win for the fifth
time in six games.
Jeff Locke (0-3), still searching for his first major league win
after nine starts, was chased in the fourth inning. Pittsburgh fell
eight games behind St. Louis in the race for the second NL wild
card with seven to play.
Tied for the NL Central lead a week after the All-Star game, the
Pirates have faded quickly in the second half for the second
consecutive year. They have dropped 19 of 25 and must go 5-2 the
rest of the way to avoid a 20th straight losing season.
Earlier Wednesday, club president Frank Coonelly said manager
Clint Hurdle and GM Neal Huntington will be back next season.
Wright reached on an infield single during a four-run third
inning for his 1,419th hit, snapping a tie with Ed Kranepool atop
the team’s career list.
The slugger pulled into second base thanks to a throwing error
on the play and his achievement was shown on the Citi Field
scoreboard. The Mets played a few of Wright’s highlights on the big
video board, including his first major league hit. He received a
warm ovation and quickly waved twice to the skimpy crowd of 22,890
before flashing a wide smile toward the New York dugout.
A six-time All-Star, Wright accomplished the feat in 1,256 games
from 2004-12. Kranepool played in 1,853 games from 1962-79.
Kranepool was at Citi Field on Wednesday, and the two posed for
pictures together during batting practice.
Mets fans get another chance to enjoy a possible nice moment
when knuckleballer R.A. Dickey tries for his 20th win Thursday
afternoon against Pittsburgh in New York’s home finale.
“Obviously, there’s something that looks pretty about that
number,” said Dickey, looking to improve his Cy Young Award
Hefner (3-7) faced seven batters without recording an out in his
previous start, a 16-1 loss to Philadelphia last Thursday. This
time, he was on top of his game.
The rookie right-hander allowed only three harmless singles _
two to former New York City prep star Pedro Alvarez _ over seven
outstanding innings. Hefner matched a career high with seven
strikeouts and walked just one. He also dropped down two sacrifice
bunts that led to runs.
Jeurys Familia finished up with two hitless innings.
In addition to his record-breaking hit, Wright lined a clean
single to center in the fourth. Daniel Murphy and Kelly Shoppach
each had an RBI single for New York. Andres Torres had three hits
and scored twice.
Pirates star Andrew McCutchen, chasing the NL batting title,
went 0 for 4.
NOTES: Dickey’s start was moved up a day so he could pitch at
home. He is 19-6 with a 2.66 ERA and 209 strikeouts in 220 innings.
The last 20-game winner for the Mets was Frank Viola in 1990. …
New York manager Terry Collins said there is probably a 70 percent
chance that closer Frank Francisco (elbow tendinitis) is done for
the season. Francisco hasn’t pitched since Sept. 16. … LHP Robert
Carson had an MRI that showed a triceps tendon strain. He is day to
day. “A huge sigh of relief for me and for him,” Collins said.
… Wright also set franchise records for RBIs, runs and walks this
season. The only other active players to lead their current club in
career hits are Derek Jeter (Yankees), Todd Helton (Rockies) and
Michael Young (Rangers). … Pirates 2B Neil Walker (lower back)
was out of the lineup again and could be shut down for the rest of
the season, Hurdle said. … Rookie LF Starling Marte showed off
his powerful arm, throwing out Murphy at the plate by a wide
margin. … Pirates coach Tom Filer went down after he was hit in
the side of the face by a thrown ball during batting practice. He
walked off the field, guided by a trainer, and was evaluated by the
team’s medical staff. Filer, the club’s pitching coach at Triple-A
Indianapolis, was expected to be fine.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)