Mercer's RBI single leads Pirates past Mets

John Perrotto, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH - Jordy Mercer proved to be the right man at the right time.
Mercer delivered an RBI single up the middle to score Andrew McCutchen as the Pittsburgh Pirates edged the New York Mets 3-2 at PNC Park on Friday night.
The Pirates had gone 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, dropping their season batting average to .230 in those situations, when the second baseman - a .313 hitter with runners on second and third - stepped to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning.
"We were all ready to go home," Mercer said. "We've had some long games this year. It seems that we've played quite of a bit of games like these and you always want to be that guy. You always want to get that hit. You always want to get the game-winning run. Luckily it was me today."
McCutchen led off the 11th by drawing a walk from Gonzalez Germen (0-1), who was making his major-league debut, and stole second as Pedro Alvarez struck out. Russell Martin was intentionally walked and Gaby Sanchez struck out before Mercer delivered.
"I know they were shifting me a little bit to the left side and as soon as I saw it get past the pitcher, I knew it had a good chance to get through," Mercer said.
Mets manager Terry Collins had to use German in a tough spot because he needed four pitchers to hold the Pirates scoreless in the ninth to keep the game tied at 2-2 to force extra innings. Veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins was unavailable because of right triceps tightness and Collins held off on using closer Bobby Parnell in case he was needed for a save situation if the Mets took a lead.
"One thing you've got to do is make them swing the bat," Collins said. "You can't walk Cutch there because you know he's going to steal and be standing on second base. Germen made some great pitches, too. The 3-1 pitch to Gaby Sanchez was about as (gutsy) of a pitch that you'll ever see."
However, German could only look on helplessly as Mercer's hit - called "a seeing-eye, 20-hopper" by Mets third baseman David Wright - went past him and into center field.
"It was a pretty good pitch because it was a ground ball but it was well-located where nobody could catch it," Germen said through a translator.
Pittsburgh's Vin Mazzaro (5-2) worked a perfect 11th for the win.
The Pirates won back-to-back games for the first time since ending July on a nine-game winning streak. They have gone 4-6 this month and trail division-leading St. Louis by one game in the National League Central.
The Mets had their four-game winning streak snapped, one short of their season high. They had been averaging 6.8 runs per game in the first six games of their nine-game road trip.
Starling Marte had two doubles for the Pirates.
Eric Young Jr., Daniel Muprhy and Wright -- the top three hitters in the Mets' order -- had two hits each.
Wright extended his hitting streak to 12 games after coming into the game 1-for-7 lifetime against Pittsburgh starter Charlie Morton.
Morton pitched seven innings in his longest outing in six starts after beginning the season on the disabled list while recovering from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. He gave up two runs and six hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
The Pirates lowered their major-league-best ERA to 3.07. Their starters have allowed more than three earned runs only once in the last 26 games.
New York's Jeremy Hefner gave up more than one earned run for the just the second time in eight starts since June 4 but still pitched well as he yielded two runs -- both on a home run by Alvarez in the first inning -- and three hits in seven innings. Hefner struck out three and had no walks.
After the Pirates took a 2-0 lead on Alvarez's 24th home run of the season, a drive to center field, the Mets tied it as Wright flared an RBI single in the sixth inning and Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit his third homer.
Wright was booed loudly each time he batted by the sellout crowd of 39,036. The fans were angry that Wright, the National League captain, originally bypassed Alvarez for next Monday night's All-Star Home Derby at Citi Field in New York before naming him to the squad on Thursday as an injury replacement for Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez.
"They're knowledgeable fans, they know what's going on and it's cool that they're upset and passionate about it," Wright said. "It made for a nice atmosphere."
NOTES: Mets RHP Matt Harvey, who has been scratched from Saturday night's scheduled start because of a blister on his right index finger, threw a bullpen session without pain before the game and has been cleared to pitch in the All-Star Game on Tuesday, which will be hosted by the Mets at Citi Field. ... New York RHP Frank Francisco, who has been on the disabled list all season while recovering from right elbow surgery, pitched one inning for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Mets on Friday and allowed one unearned run with one strikeout. It was Francisco's first game action since May 8 when he pitched for high Class A St. Lucie before having his rehab assignment stopped because of elbow pain. ... The Pirates have won four of five games against the Mets this season. ... New York RF Marlon Byrd's five-game hitting streak ended as he was 0-for-5. ... Pittsburgh acquired INF/OF Russ Canzler from Baltimore in a trade for minor-league RHP Tim Alderson and assigned him to Triple-A Indianapolis. Canzler had been designated for assignment by the Orioles. ... RHP Alex Torres (0-1, 0.51) makes his first start of the season on Saturday night for the Mets after 10 relief appearances, facing RHP A.J. Burnett (4-6, 3.05).

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