Big first and ninth innings carry Mets past Pirates 10-8

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PITTSBURGH (AP)—Five runs in the first inning, five more in the ninth. Such a night usually adds up to an easy victory. This one was anything but simple for the New York Mets.

Moises Alou hit a two-run homer in New York’s big first inning, and the Mets held off Pittsburgh’s ninth-inning rally for a 10-8 victory over the Pirates on Wednesday night.

“Every time we play here it’s interesting and adventurous,” said manager Willie Randolph, whose team’s NL East title clinching was delayed last season by a three-game sweep here last September. “We had a couple of heartbreaks here last year and tonight looked like we might be set up for another one, but we prevailed.”

David Wright hit a two-run double ahead of Alou’s third homer in three games as the Mets roughed up Matt Morris for five hits and stole three bases while taking the 5-0 lead. Jose Reyes singled and Luis Castillo walked ahead of Wright’s double, and Carlos Delgado doubled before Alou hit Morris’ first pitch into the left-field bleachers for his eighth homer.

In his previous at-bat on Tuesday, Alou’s two-run single in the eighth inning proved the difference in the Mets’ 5-4 victory. The 41-year-old Alou is 7-for-13 with nine RBIs during the Mets’ three-game winning streak and is 17-for-46 (.370) with six homers and 14 RBIs in his last 12 games. He is a .318 career hitter with 27 homers against the Pirates.

“From the way it started, we thought it was going to be a very different game,” Alou said. “Then they shut us down the next seven innings and made it close. Even in their last at-bat, they made it tough on us.”

The Pirates trailed 5-4 going into the ninth, but reliever Shawn Chacon’s throwing error as he tried to get Lastings Milledge at third base on Castillo’s single to the mound led to another big inning that put the Mets up 10-4.

“If we make that play, it’s a completely different ninth inning,” Pirates manager Jim Tracy said.

After Milledge scored on the errant throw, the next five Mets got hits. Carlos Beltran hit a two-run double off Damaso Marte and pinch-hitter Damion Easley followed with an RBI double ahead of Alou’s run-scoring single.

But Pittsburgh came back with four runs in the bottom of the ninth against reliever Aaron Sele as Jason Bay hit a two-run double to end an 0-for-13 slump. Billy Wagner got the final two outs for his 28th save in 30 opportunities, but only after Jose Bautista hit a long fly ball to center that nearly left the park and Jose Castillo singled in a run.

On the mound, Wagner couldn’t help remember how he couldn’t get the final out as the Pirates scored seven runs with two outs in the ninth inning of a 2001 game at PNC Park to beat his Houston Astros 9-8.

“You’re never out of the game until the 27th out is made,” he said.

Right now, that 27th out can be tough to get for the Mets’ opponents. New York has 30 runs and 45 hits in its last four games, an average of 7.5 runs and 11.3 hits.

“That’s what this offense can do—we’ve got a good mix of speed and power and when guys get hot at the same we’re going to put a lot of crooked numbers on the board,” Wright said. “But when you have a team like that down early, you’ve got to go finish them off. That’s what we were so good at last year.”

John Maine (13-7) needed 117 pitches over five innings to get the victory, allowing solo home runs to Bautista in the second and Nate McLouth in the fourth. The Pirates, losing their third in a row, got within 5-4 in the sixth against reliever Guillermo Mota on Matt Kata’s pinch-hit double to left that landed in front of a diving Alou and bounded away from him.

Morris (7-8), acquired by the Pirates from San Francisco in a surprise trading deadline deal July 31, withstood the five-run first to last six innings, giving up only two hits over five shutout innings. Morris is 0-1 with two no-decisions since being traded, giving up 23 hits and 14 earned runs (6.87 ERA) in 18 1-3 innings.

“I’ll take full responsibility for that loss, putting the team in that hole,” Morris said. “That’s tough to come back from. It seemed like the game was going real fast for me at the start and that’s not a good sign.”

Delgado was pulled in the eighth inning with a bruised left leg that occurred when he ran into a railing while trying to catch a foul popup. He won’t know until Thursday if he can play that night, but he said there was minimal swelling.

Notes

The Pirates dealt Alou to Atlanta in a 1990 trade that landed them LHP Zane Smith, who won six games down the stretch as they edged the Mets for the NL East title. … McLouth is 12-for-33 with four homers and nine RBIs in his last nine games. … Pirates SS Jack Wilson took a hit away from Delgado in the seventh, diving to his left to stop a grounder up the middle and throwing out Delgado from his knees. … Morris lost for the first time in seven career decisions in PNC Park.

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