NEW YORK (AP)—David Wright stood at home plate watching, willing the high flyball down the right-field line to land fair.
His teammates on base waited. The Mets’ agitated fans were silent. When the ball dropped just inside the foul line no one moved for a split second.
Once the umpire gave the fair sign, the celebration was on for New York’s 5-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night, their third straight.
The Shea crowd put their booing to rest and cheered a win Mets manager Willie Randolph called “ugly.” Wright, who has been slumping, was mobbed by his teammates down near first base.
I was begging the wind to keep it fair,” he said. “It was the ball versus the wind. It was taking it (foul), taking it and it fell in.”
Wright was 3-for-15 in the first four games of the homestand before the hit off John Van Benschoten (0-1) over a pulled in outfield with the bases loaded. He just wanted to send a drive to right field to score the speedy Endy Chavez from third.
“In that situation, when you’re struggling, scuffling, you don’t want to try to much,” Wright said.
After the Mets’ bullpen had blown a 4-2 lead for Johan Santana, who allowed just two home runs in 5 2-3 innings, the Mets rallied against Van Benschoten, Pittsburgh’s sixth pitcher, in the 11th.
Van Benschoten, called up Sunday when Matt Morris was released, gave up a single to Chavez and balked to move him to second. Marlon Anderson sacrificed, and after Jose Reyes was walked intentionally, Luis Castillo walked—New York’s ninth walk.
Wright then got his hit to make Jorge Sosa (3-1), the Mets’ seventh pitcher, a winner.
The Mets were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and Reyes scored once even though he reached base in all six plate appearances—three hits and three walks.
“Any time you get your leadoff man on six times we should score more runs,” Randolph said.
The Pirates tied it in the ninth against Billy Wagner with an assist from Reyes’ throwing error. It was Wagner’s first blown save of the season—his first run, too, albeit unearned.
Pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit led off with a grounder to Reyes, whose throw bounced in the dirt. Pinch-runner Brian Bixler advanced on a wild pitch. He went to third on Chris Gomez’s groundout and scored on Freddy Sanchez’s single to center that fell just beyond the reach of a diving Carlos Beltran.
The Pirates pulled to 4-3 in the eighth when Duaner Sanchez walked in a run — his first in 6 2-3 innings this season.
Working on five days’ rest because Monday’s game between the teams was rained out, Santana fell behind early for his second straight start, giving up a leadoff homer to Nate McLouth. Santana left after walking two and hitting Xavier Nady in the left elbow with a pitch to load the bases in the sixth. The Mets ace showed glimpses of his brilliance in between, retiring 10 of 11 before Jason Bay’s homer in the fourth.
Santana struck out seven and walked three and threw 114 pitches.
“What did he have, 41 foul balls?” Randolph said. “You got to give them credit for fighting against him.”
Pedro Feliciano got Adam LaRoche to meekly pop out to short to end the threat in the sixth. Aaron Heilman put runners on first and second in the seventh, but Scott Schoeneweis got out of the jam when he tagged out Jose Bautista at home, as Bautista tried scoring when a pitch got away from catcher Raul Casanova.
“Somebody wants to step up and get that big hit,” Pirates manager John Russell said of his team that was 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. “And they start trying to do a little too much and they get out of their approach.”
The Pirates jumped out 2-0 with two homers, their only hits off Santana.
Santana has given up seven home runs in six starts after allowing an AL-leading 33 for Minnesota last season.
“Ian Snell, he doesn’t get the notoriety that he deserves,” Wright said. “He’s got great stuff.”
Chavez, hitting just .160 coming in, singled to lead off the bottom of the fifth and raised his hands palms up as if saying “I don’t know how I did it” while running down the first-base line. He scored an out later on Reyes’ triple off the wall in right-center.
After Castillo walked, Wright hit a potential double-play grounder to short. Second baseman Freddy Sanchez couldn’t handle the throw, and Reyes scored on the error to make it 4-2.
Snell then walked Beltran to load the bases and was done. Damaso Marte relieved and struck out Church on a 3-2 pitch on the outside corner that caused Church to leap in the air and shout at plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. Carlos Delgado struck out and heard his first chorus of boos since he didn’t come out for a curtain call Sunday.
Snell walked five in 4 1-3 innings. He allowed four runs and five hits, and
“I was out of control,” Snell said. “I don’t blame nobody but myself. I was rushing myself. I just don’t feel like I’m in it right now. I gotta get back into my groove I was in last year.”
Mets catcher Brian Schneinder remained hospitalized with a thumb infection. General manager Omar Minaya said the catcher could be released as early as tomorrow. … Mets LF Moises Alou was cleared to play after an MRI of his left ankle showed no damage. The oft-injured 41-year-old could be activated Friday.