Once every five days, there's a great reason to watch the Mets: Matt Harvey. The rest of the rotation has struggled mightily this year, particularly over the past couple of weeks, and Harvey's been the best pitcher in the National League, if not all of baseball.
Harvey wasn't at his best today, but he was by no means terrible. He retired the Pirates in order in the first inning and allowed just a two-out double to Pedro Alvarez in a scoreless second inning. He didn't eappear to have his best stuff, though, as he didn't strike anyone out through the first two innings.
In the bottom of the second, Lucas Duda hit his eighth home run of the year, a one-out solo shot to center field to give the Mets an early lead. John Buck hit a bloop single and—believe it or not—stole second base. Mike Baxter drew a walk, and it seemd like the Mets had a rally brewing. But Juan Lagares grounded into a fielder's choice to short, and Matt Harvey struck out with runners on first and third to end the inning.
Harvey's toughest inning of the day, by far, was the third. Clint Barmes hit a home run to left field to begin the inning and tie the game. Harvey retired opposing pitcher Jeanmar Gomez thanks to a fantastic catch by center fielder Juan Lagares.
But Harvey walked Starling Marte and gave up a single to Travis Snider. With runners then on the corners, he walked Andrew McCutchen to load the bases. He fell behind Garrett Jones, who then flied out to right field to put Pittsburgh ahead by one. And Harvey then got Jordy Mercer out to end the inning, limtiing the damage in what could have been a much worse frame.
Neither team did much of anything at the plate through the sixth inning, and Matt Harvey finished strong in the seventh, thanks in part to John Buck catching Clint Barmes sleeping and picking him off second base to end the inning.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, John Buck walked for just the sixth time this season. He moved to second on a wild pitch, and Mike Baxter blooped a single to left field to bring him home and tie the game. With Lagares at the pate, Baxter stole second, and he stole third, too, as Lagares struck out swinging. Up came Justin Turner to pinch hit for Harvey, but he struck out swinging to end the Mets' threat.
Terry Collins called upon Scott Rice to start the eighth inning and wound up using three pitchers in the inning as the Mets allowed a run. Rice recorded an out before walking McCutchen. The Pirates sent Met killer Gaby Sanchez up to pinch hit, and Collins went to Brandon Lyon, who walked Sanchez and struck out pinch hitter Jose Tabata. With runners on first and second, Collins opted to bring in Bobby Parnell. The Mets' best relief pitcher gave up a single to Pedro Alvarez, giving the Pirates the lead again. Parnell got Michael McKenry to line out with runners on second and third, but the one-run lead was all Pittsburgh would need to win the game.
The Mets had a great chance to tie the game in the bottom half of the eighth, after Daniel Murphy's one-out double and a mostly-intentional walk to David Wright. But Ike Davis struck out swinging and heard plenty of boos from the Citi Field crowd for the second time this afternoon as he returned to the dugout. Wright had stolen second base on the play, and Lucas Duda hit a hard ground ball down the first base line. The ball hit the bag and popped up directly to second baseman Brandon Inge, who easily threw out Duda at first base. It was a disheartening freak play, to say the least.
Parnell worked around some trouble to pitch a scoreless ninth inning, but the Mets went down in order against Jason Grilli in the bottom of the inning to end the game.
Six games below .500, the Mets head to St. Louis to face the very good Cardinals. Jeremy Hefner gets the start tomorrow night at 7:05 pm EDT opposite Lance Lynn.
SB Nation Coverage
* Amazin' Avenue Gamethread
* Bucs Dugout Gamethread
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Mike Baxter, +17.2% WPA, Daniel Murphy, +12.2% WPA
Big losers: Ike Davis ,-28.2% WPA, Bobby Parnell, -20.2% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: ##
Teh sux0rest play: ##
Total pitcher WPA: -10.6% WPA
Total batter WPA: -39.4% WPA
GWRBI!: Pedro Alvarez