Pirates 11, Mets 2

Jerry Beach, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Jose Tabata went 4-for-5 with three RBI and finished a triple shy of the cycle, Jordy Mercer hit two homers and Francisco Liriano struck out nine batters in his first start of the season as the Pittsburgh Pirates routed the New York Mets 11-2 in front of an announced crowd of 31,160 at Citi Field.
Michael McHenry also had three RBI for the Pirates (20-16), who set season highs for runs scored in a game as well as runs scored over a two-game span (18). Clint Barmes had a pair of RBI singles and Starling Marte had two singles as well.
Liriano, who was sidelined all season with a broken right humerus bone, was sharp in his first start since Sept. 25, when he was pitching for the White Sox. Liriano showed off his usual slider-fastball combo and got 18 swings and misses in just 5 1/3 innings. He allowed one run on six hits and two walks in a 90-pitch performance.
The Mets' woes on the mound and at the plate continued as they lost for the fourth time in six games. New York (14-19) has scored just 11 runs in its last five games and hasn't received a quality start from someone other than Matt Harvey since Jeremy Hefner allowed two runs in eight innings on April 30.
Jonathon Niese's slump deepened as he tied a career-high by surrendering eight runs, all earned, in 4 1/3 innings. Niese allowed eight hits and three walks while striking out just one. He is 1-4 with a 7.62 ERA in his last six starts.
Marlon Byrd had two hits for the Mets, including an RBI single in the sixth. Andrew Brown homered leading off the ninth.
The Pirates scored once in the second and three times in the third before chasing Niese during a five-run fifth. Tabata's two-run homer capped the third-inning rally while his RBI double -- which was a couple feet shy of clearing the center field wall -- ended Niese's afternoon in the fifth.
The four-hit game was the third of Tabata's career. He had two chances to complete the cycle but singled in the seventh and flew out to left in the ninth.
Mercer, who homered to start the fifth-inning barrage, laced another solo homer in the eighth for his first two-homer game as a big leaguer.
NOTES: The game was delayed 47 minutes by torrential rains following the top of the ninth inning. Mets third baseman David Wright played a day after fouling a ball off his left knee and made a handful of nice plays at the hot corner. With the bases loaded and one out in the second, he fielded a high chopper from Liriano and began a 5-3 double play. ... Injured Mets right-handed pitcher Frank Francisco (right elbow tendinitis) was scheduled to throw an inning for Double-A Binghamton Saturday, but the game was rained out. ... Reliever Jeurys Familia was unavailable for the second straight game due to biceps tendinitis. ... Pirates catcher Russell Martin missed his fourth start in five games with a stiff neck. With Martin's short-term status uncertain, the Pirates brought up catcher Tony Sanchez from Triple-A to serve on their "taxi squad." He either has to be activated before Sunday's series finale or sent back to the minor leagues. ... Pirates second baseman Neil Walker, on the disabled list with a lacerated right hand, was scheduled to play all seven innings in the first game of a doubleheader with Double-A Altoona Saturday and to get two at-bats in the nightcap. He'll then play all nine innings Sunday. ... To make room for Liriano, the Pirates optioned right-handed pitcher Duke Welker to Triple-A Indianapolis.

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