NEW YORK -- Ike Davis went above and beyond with his two-home-run performance Monday night at Citi Field. The way the Pirates hit the ball, he only needed the one.
The Pirates offense struggled against New York Mets starter Jenrry Mejia and a slew of relievers in a 6-2 loss. The Pirates reverted to the performance they displayed in the first two games of their series over the weekend against the Houston Astros, when they scored one run in each game. They could not build on their eight-run outing Sunday.
"[Monday night] we created opportunities throughout the game and weren't able to capitalize until late," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We had a number of opportunities. The first three innings we had opportunities especially."
The Pirates left nine runners on base Monday night.
Mejia, 22, making his second start of the season, pitched five scoreless innings and struck out four. He had allowed five runs and five walks in three innings in his first start.
Davis hit his 29th and 30th home runs of the season, the first off of starter Kyle McPherson and the second against Jeff Karstens.
The Pirates dropped to 5-17 in September, 75-78 overall. They must finish the season 7-2 to record their first winning season since 1992.
Hurdle and the Pirates front office had the chance to evaluate future potential in McPherson's second start of the season. Hurdle said before the game that McPherson, 24, a right-hander, could compete for a spot in the rotation in the spring. McPherson pitched well in 12 minor league starts before appearing out of the bullpen for the Pirates this summer.
"You really just got to focus day by day right now and just worry about spring training when it gets here," McPherson said. "As of right now I'm just trying to go out there and do what I know how to do, and keep the team in the ballgame as long as I possibly can."
Hurdle said he reads body language and reaction to trouble when evaluating a young pitcher in addition to how often he works ahead of batters.
"He's trying to figure some things out when he's out there," Hurdle said. "We want him to stay aggressive, pitch to win, make the same conviction pitches that he would make to other people, don't let the names make you change your game."
Andrew McCutchen tripled in the eighth. He went 1 for 3 and his average remained at .336, four points ahead of San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey. McCutchen was hitting .373 Aug. 1, but entered Monday hitting .267 since that point.
The Pirates scored their first run of the game when Garrett Jones followed McCutchen's triple with an RBI single.
Neil Walker singled, the third consecutive hit in the inning, but Gaby Sanchez grounded into a 3-6-1 double play to end the inning.
Mejia walked Josh Harrison and McCutchen with one out in the third, but the Pirates couldn't score. Jones grounded to second and the Mets retired McCutchen, but Harrison slipped and fell rounding third. The Mets caught him in a rundown to end the inning.
Jose Tabata's RBI single in the ninth scored the Pirates' second run.
McPherson walked David Wright to lead off the fourth and fell behind Davis, 3-0. Davis took a strike, then hit his 29th home run to left-center field to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.
"I just failed to execute, the ball got up and elevated," McPherson said. "A good hitter like he is, he put a good swing on it."
McPherson (0-2) pitched 4 1/3 innings, matching his previous start, and allowed four runs on four hits and three walks.
"I thought the fastball was fresher," Hurdle said. "I don't think the command was as sharp."
McPherson said returning to the routine that accompanies a rotation spot improved his arm strength.
McPherson walked Josh Thole and allowed a single to Fred Lewis in the fifth before Hurdle removed him. Hisanori Takahashi retired Daniel Murphy, then gave way to Karstens with two runners on base. Wright singled to score Thole and extend the Mets' lead to 3-0.
Davis hit his second home run of the game, a three-run shot into the bullpen, to give the Mets a 6-0 lead.
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published September 25, 2012 4:00 AM