By MIKE FITZPATRICK, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Garrett Jones hit a three-run homer– a call that was correctly overturned by baseball’s beleaguered umpires– and Wandy Rodriguez pitched the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 7-3 victory over the New York Mets on Friday night.
Jones doubled twice and leadoff man Starling Marte also had three hits for the Pirates, who improved to 4-13 at Citi Field. Pittsburgh had lost four of five overall, including the opener of this four-game series Thursday.
Handed an early lead, Rodriguez (3-2) allowed six hits over six innings to win for the first time in four starts. He gave up Anthony Recker’s first homer for the Mets but worked around a leadoff double in the fourth and held New York to 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
The Mets entered 20 for 101 (.198) in those situations and were batting .198 overall in the last 15 games.
Rodriguez improved to 4-0 in his last five starts against New York and 6-2 overall. Vin Mazzaro tossed two scoreless innings and Jason Grilli retired Ruben Tejada with two on, making him perfect in 14 save chances this season.
With runners at the corners in the fifth, Jones hit a drive to right off Shaun Marcum (0-3) that barely cleared a leaping Marlon Byrd. The ball caromed back onto the field off the bottom of a black retaining wall just above the fence and was initially ruled in play.
Jones ended up on third and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle came out for a quick discussion with umpire Joe West. Whatever was said at first made West crack a smile, and the umps went inside to look at the replay.
After a 1 1/2-minute delay they came back on the field and correctly signaled home run, extending Pittsburgh’s lead to 6-0.
It’s been a rough week for umpires, who botched a home run review Wednesday in Cleveland and goofed on a pitching-change rule the next night in Houston. Major League Baseball executive vice president Joe Torre said Angel Hernandez’s crew made an “improper call” in Cleveland, and MLB suspended umpire Fieldin Culbreth for two games Friday because he was in charge of the crew in Houston.
Culbreth and the rest of his crew–Brian O’Nora, Bill Welke and Adrian Johnson– were also fined an undisclosed amount.
Pirates reliever Jose Contreras gave up a solo homer to Jordany Valdespin and an RBI single to Andrew Brown in the ninth.
Marcum looked uncomfortable on the mound and worked deliberately all night. He has failed to get through the fifth inning in any of his three starts for the Mets since beginning the season on the disabled list.
The right-hander had three 1-2-3 innings Friday but still gave up six runs and nine hits. He also hit two batters with pitches.
Jones opened a three-run second with a double to left-center, the first of four straight hits off Marcum. Pedro Alvarez had an RBI single and Rodriguez drove in a run with a bases-loaded smash up the middle that knocked Marcum’s glove off his left hand.
The play turned into a 1-4-6 forceout after the ball deflected to second baseman Justin Turner. Marcum was checked twice by a trainer but remained in the game.
Pittsburgh made it 3-0 when Tejada struggled to get the ball out of his glove and double-clutched a throw on Marte’s run-scoring single to shortstop. The Pirates, who batted around in the inning, could easily have scored more if Jose Tabata hadn’t been cut down at third for the first out on Alvarez’s single to right.
The clutch hitting was a welcome change for the Pirates, who went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position while losing the series opener Thursday night. They entered 4 for 45 (.089) in those situations over the previous six games.
Pittsburgh has homered in 11 of its last 12 games.
NOTES: LHP Francisco Liriano is set to come off the disabled list and make his Pirates debut Saturday against Mets LHP Jonathon Niese (2-3, 4.66 ERA). Liriano has been sidelined all season while recovering from a broken right arm. Niese’s back was feeling much better than a week ago, manager Terry Collins said. … Pirates RHP Charlie Morton said he felt good after throwing more than 30 fastballs in a bullpen session. He hopes to throw breaking balls in another side session Sunday and then get back into games. Morton, recovering from Tommy John surgery last June, had shoulder stiffness last week in a Triple-A rehab outing. … Pittsburgh 2B Neil Walker (right hand laceration) was slated to play nine innings in his second rehab game with Double-A Altoona. He can come off the disabled list Sunday. … New York rookie Jeurys Familia (biceps tendinitis) was unavailable out of the bullpen. He is day to day for now but his status could affect how the Mets map out the rest of reliever Frank Francisco’s rehab assignment, Collins said. … The Mets and the Baseball Tomorrow Fund will donate up to $1 million to assist youth baseball and softball organizations affected by Superstorm Sandy.
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