By HOWIE RUMBERG AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Gaby Sanchez tagged the Mets again, hitting a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning and a pinch-hit homer in the eighth that started the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 5-3, come-from-behind victory over New York on Monday.
The Mets announced after the game that they had fired hitting coach Dave Hudgens. They also cut reliever Jose Valverde, who gave up Sanchez’s go-ahead hit.
Sanchez upped his average against the Mets to .324 and has 34 RBIs vs New York, his bests against any NL team. He homered off Scott Rice while hitting for Ike Davis, who was making his return to Citi Field after being traded to the Pirates in mid-April.
Valverde (1-1) was booed off the field after allowing pinch-hitter Jose Tabata’s tying single in the eighth. Valverde returned for the ninth and was even worse.
With one out, Neil Walker singled and Andrew McCutchen walked.
Sanchez fouled off a fastball, losing hold of the bat, which spun toward the Pirates dugout and hit a batboy in the legs. The batboy smiled and on-deck hitter Russell Martin checked to see if he was OK.
Sanchez then singled to left, scoring Walker. Juan Centeno couldn’t handle Curtis Granderson’s throw that bounced to the right of the plate and skittered past Valverde, who was backing up but way too close to the catcher. McCutchen scored on Granderson’s error for a two-run lead.
Martin added an RBI double for Pittsburgh, which rebounded from a loss to Washington on Sunday after a season-high four straight wins.
Tony Watson (5-0) pitched an inning for the win. Mark Melancon got his 10th save.
Davis drew a warm reception from the Memorial Day crowd of 29,309, opposite of what he predicted during a pregame chat in the visitor’s dugout. Popular with fans in his four-plus seasons before being traded April 18, he went 0 for 2 with a walk.
Slumping Lucas Duda homered off Melancon to start the ninth. The homer was the first off Melancon in 86 innings, since April 14, 2013.
New York took a 2-0 lead in the fifth on Daniel Murphy’s single, Pittsburgh’s third error of the game and a favorable review under the new home plate collision rule.
But the Mets bullpen wasted a fine start by Jacob deGrom.
The 25-year-old deGrom pitched 6 2-3 scoreless innings in his third career start, allowing five hits. He labored early but settled in to throw 122 pitches.
Brandon Cumpton was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis to take the place of Wandy Rodriguez, who was designated for assignment Thursday, and matched deGrom into the fifth.
But, with the help of an umpire’s review, New York took the lead.
The Mets two-out rally was started by _ who else? _ deGrom. He lined a single to left field for his second hit of the day and advanced when Juan Lagares walked.
A college shortstop, deGrom is now 4 for 5 as a big league batter.
Murphy lined a single to right field and deGrom scored easily. Josh Harrison’s throw to third skipped passed third baseman Pedro Alvarez and Lagares scampered home. The ball took a good bounce back to Alvarez off the protective fence in front of the Pirates dugout and he made a quick throw home.
Martin set up to the left of home plate but stuck his leg out, blocking Lagares’ path before the ball arrived.
Umpire Laz Diaz initially called Lagares out, but Mets manager Terry Colliins asked crew chief Jeff Nelson to review the play under new rule 7.13, covering collisions at the plate.
After a delay of 3 minutes, 4 seconds, Lagares was called safe and Murphy was awarded second base on the play home.
NOTES: The Mets placed OF Eric Young Jr. on the DL because of a right hamstring strain. They recalled OF Matt den Dekker from Triple-A Las Vegas to take his place. … The Pirates designated RHP Vin Mazzaro for assignment to make room for Cumpton. … Up Next: Pirates RHP Edinson Volquez (2-4) faces Mets LHP Jonathon Niese (3-3) on Tuesday night. … With his third-inning single, deGrom became the first Mets pitcher to have hits in his first three starts.
(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)