By HOWIE RUMBERG, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Pedro Alvarez hit an RBI single against New York’s overworked bullpen, and the Pittsburgh Pirates got a most fortunate bounce in beating the Mets 3-2 Sunday for a series win.
Clint Barmes homered, Garrett Jones had a sacrifice fly and Jeanmar Gomez left with a lead against young ace Matt Harvey in the Pirates’ third straight victory in this four-game series. Pittsburgh improved to 6-13 at Citi Field since it opened in 2009.
Mets relievers had pitched 13 innings over the previous three games, so manager Terry Collins was looking for another deep effort from Harvey in his 18th big league start following a nine-inning, one-hit gem on Tuesday. Harvey went seven, lifted for a pinch-hitter with the score 2-all.
Scott Rice (1-2) walked Pirates slugger Andrew McCutchen with one out in the eighth before Brandon Lyon walked pinch-hitter Gaby Sanchez. Lyon struck out pinch-hitter Jose Tabata before giving way to closer Bobby Parnell.
Alvarez, who played high school ball in New York City, singled to left-center for a 3-2 lead.
The Mets had an opportunity in the eighth against Mark Melancon, putting runners on first and third with one out. Ike Davis struck out as David Wright swiped second– New York’s fourth stolen base of the day –and Lucas Duda hit a sharp grounder that struck first base and shot straight up in the air. Second baseman Brandon Inge fielded the ball and tossed to Melancon for the final out of the inning, drawing gasps from many of the 28,404 in attendance.
Jason Grilli pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th straight save to start the season.
Gomez gave the Pirates another solid start in place of injured James McDonald, yielding one run in five innings. But unlike in his previous outing, when five relievers combined to finish the victory, Pittsburgh’s bullpen gave up the lead in the seventh on Mike Baxter’s looping single off Justin Wilson (3-0) that tied it at 2.
Baxter, a pinch-hitting specialist with two game-winning hits this week _ including one Thursday in the series opener– got a start Sunday. He drove in John Buck, who walked and advanced on a wild pitch, with the Mets’ first hit since a one-out single in the second. Baxter then stole second, and third when Juan Lagares struck out for the second out. Batting for Harvey, pinch-hitter Justin Turner struck out.
The Mets finished their homestand 2-4 and were 7 for 40 with runners in scoring position– including 1 for 7 on Sunday.
Collins tried to jolt his lineup by restoring slumping sluggers Davis and Duda back into the middle of the order, and the move paid quick dividends when Duda homered to center field. Hitless in his previous nine at-bats and in a 3-for-26 slump in May coming in, Duda ran around the bases in his pink spikes on Mother’s Day as New York went up 1-0.
But the no-nonsense Harvey appeared out of sorts from the start _ maybe it was Buck using pink stick-ons on his fingernails rather than the usual white to make pitch signs more easily readable.
Relying more heavily on his slider and curveball than a fastball that reaches 98 mph, Harvey gave up two runs in the third, and it could’ve been worse if Lagares hadn’t made a sensational catch in center field.
After Barmes led off with his second homer of the season, Gomez hit a sinking liner and Lagares reached low to get his glove on the ball, which popped out as he stumbled forward. Lagares’ momentum carried him into a dive and he made the catch _ for good _ as he fell to the turf.
Harvey then loaded the bases on two walks sandwiched around a single. Jones hit a sacrifice fly for a 2-1 lead and Jordy Mercer popped out to end the inning.
Still, the 24-year-old right-hander gave up little to the Pirates on a day when he struck out a season-low four. Harvey allowed five hits and two runs. He also walked two and plunked his first batter of the year.
NOTES: The Mets recalled RHP Greg Burke from Triple-A Las Vegas and placed RHP Jeurys Familia on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 9, because of right biceps tendinitis. Collins said the team could have waited a couple more days on Familia, but the bullpen needed help. … Pirates RHP Charlie Morton (elbow surgery) is scheduled to make a rehab start Thursday at Double-A Altoona. He is targeted to throw four innings and 65 pitches. … Pittsburgh RHP Jeff Karstens (shoulder inflammation) is set to make a rehab start in the Class-A Florida State League on Monday. He is slated to throw 50 pitches and three innings. … The popular children’s group, “The Wiggles,” performed before the game. … Buck stole his first base since 2009.
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