Pirates 1, Mets 0, 1st game; Pirates 6, Mets 1, 2nd game

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PITTSBURGH (AP)—The Pittsburgh Pirates are running an aggressive campaign to push for Jason Bay as the NL Rookie of the Year. The slugging outfielder’s numbers might speak for themselves.

Bay hit a two-run homer—his 24th—to set a team rookie record and Dave Williams pitched six shutout innings to help the Pirates complete a doubleheader sweep of the New York Mets with a 6-1 victory Sunday.

The Pirates won the first game 1-0 on backup catcher Humberto Cota’s home run and a combined three-hitter by Ryan Vogelsong, Salomon Torres and Jose Mesa.

Despite missing the first month of the season while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, Bay is hitting .294 with 75 RBIs.

“He has my vote,” Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He’s been phenomenal, especially with the number of at-bats he’s done this in.”

With his 24th homer, Bay passed the club mark he shared with Ralph Kiner (1948) and Johnny Rizzo (1936).

“The closer you get to it, the more you think about it,” Bay said. “You try not to think about it, but it was in the back of my mind. When I got back to the dugout, I kind of let out a sigh. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.

“I’m really proud of what I’ve done. I can’t explain it. Things have just gone really well for me. I just wanted to get settled in here and prove that I belonged. I think I’ve done that and now I just need to continue to get better.”

Williams (2-1) held the Mets to three hits over the first six innings. He walked two and struck out seven.

Former Pirate Kris Benson (12-12) had a streak of 18 shutout innings until the fourth. Jack Wilson led off with a double and Bay hit a 2-2 pitch over the left-center wall.

“Kris pitched really well until the seventh inning,” Mets manager Art Howe said. “He made that one mistake to Bay, but that was all it took the way we swung the bats.”

Benson, who won his previous two starts, made his first career appearance against the Pirates, who traded him to New York on July 30. He allowed with six runs and six hits in six-plus innings.

“It was a little strange, but it was no different than any other game,” Benson said. “Execute your pitches and you can get hitters out.”

Todd Zeile, who got his 2,000th hit in the first game, hit an RBI double in the ninth to prevent the shutout. It would’ve marked the first time the Mets were blanked in both games of a doubleheader since Aug. 5, 1975, against Montreal and the first time the Pirates posted two shutout wins since winning a pair of 1-0 games against St. Louis on Oct. 3, 1976.

Ty Wigginton, acquired by the Pirates for Benson, hit a two-run double in the seventh.

Bay and Rob Mackowiak opened the inning with singles and Craig Wilson was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Wigginton, who entered as a defensive replacement, doubled into the right-field corner off Benson.

“I was cruising along, but it was just a base hit here, a base hit there and it ended up breaking the game open,” Benson said. “A base hit tipped off the first baseman’s glove. It could have been an inch lower and the ballgame’s a totally different story. It didn’t go my way that time.”

Freddie Sanchez followed with an RBI single off reliever Heath Bell and another run scored when J.R. House grounded into a double play.

In the first game, Cota homered off Aaron Heilman (1-2) to lead off the third. It was the fifth homer for Cota, who has started 13 games this season and is playing while Jason Kendall serves a three-game suspension. He had both of the Pirates’ hits.

Vogelsong (6-12) held the Mets to three hits—all singles—over seven innings while walking three, hitting a batter and striking out three.

Torres pitched a perfect eighth and Jose Mesa worked the ninth for his 40th save, becoming the fourth pitcher in major league history to have four seasons with at least 40 saves.

“If you have to play a doubleheader, that’s the way to do it,” McClendon said. “That makes it tolerable. It was a pretty good day for us.”

Zeile got an infield single in the ninth off Mesa for his 2,000th hit.

Notes

The Mets are 1-2-1 in doubleheaders this season. … Mets OF Cliff Floyd didn’t play in either game. He is day-to-day with a strained muscle in his side. … In his nine starts with the Mets, Benson has given up at least three runs six times. … Mackowiak’s single in the second game was his third hit in 45 at-bats. … The Pirates are 3-3-2 in doubleheaders. They hadn’t played eight doubleheaders in a season since 1984. … Kendall, suspended for his part in a fight with Colorado on Aug. 15, can return for the Pirates’ next game, Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs.

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