NEW YORK -- When presented with the opportunity to break open the game Thursday night, the Pirates could not. Presented with a similar opportunity Friday night, they proved that they apparently are quick learners.
They pounced on New York Mets starter Shaun Marcum early and defeated the Mets, 7-3, at Citi Field to even this four-game series at one apiece.
Marcum started the season on the disabled list and was making his third start, although he had pitched once in relief. His fastballs Friday night topped out around 85 mph. He failed to finish the fifth inning for the third consecutive time, allowing six runs on nine hits in 42/3 innings. He struck out two and hit two.
"We just stuck to our approach," said Garrett Jones, who went 3 for 5 with a home run and two doubles. "We just hit him hard."
Starling Marte went 3 for 4, and Jordy Mercer and Pedro Alvarez each had two hits. The Pirates went 5 for 11 with runners in scoring position a night after going 0 for 7.
"Tonight, we had to work, and, eventually, we got something done," manager Clint Hurdle said.
The Pirates pummeled Marcum (0-3) in the second, sending all nine members of their lineup to the plate. Jones started the inning with a double, his eighth this season.
Pirates vs. New York Mets, 1:10 p.m., Citi Field, New York.
- TV, Radio:
Root Sports, KDKA-FM (93.7).
LHP Francisco Liriano (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. LHP Jon Niese (2-3, 4.66).
- Key matchup:
Liriano vs. an unfamiliar lineup. He has faced only two current Mets players.
- Hidden stat:
Niese nearly has walked as many batters (19) as he has struck out (20).
Jose Tabata entered the game with four hits in 11 career at-bats against right-handed Marcum, which is why he started in right field instead of left-handed hitter Travis Snider.
Tabata went 2 for 2 as a late-inning replacement Thursday night. Friday night, he followed Jones' double with a single, putting runners on first and third.
Alvarez ripped a single that nearly nailed Tabata as he took his lead off of first. Jones scored, but Tabata, delayed while ducking the ball, was thrown out trying to go from first to third.
Michael McKenry doubled, and Marcum hit John McDonald with a pitch to load the bases. Wandy Rodriguez lined a ball off Marcum's left wrist, scoring a run.
Marte grounded to short, but Ruben Tejada double-clutched and the throw was late, allowing another run.
Mercer singled, but Andrew McCutchen flied out on the first pitch to end the inning and leave the bases full but only after the Pirates scored three runs and forced Marcum to throw 33 pitches.
"We had a good game plan," Jones said. "Just see the ball up and attack the balls in the strike zone."
The same trio of batters who started the second came to bat in the third, but Marcum retired them on seven pitches.
Marcum hit Marte with a pitch to lead off the fifth and allowed a single to Mercer. McCutchen popped out, but Jones smoked a line drive to right field that sailed over the orange-painted top of the outfield wall and caromed off the black wall behind it, a home run. At first, it was ruled a triple.
Hurdle ran out to discuss the play with the umpires' crew chief Joe West, and, after reviewing the video, the umpires overturned the call and ruled the hit a homer. It was Jones' fifth. Suddenly, the Pirates led, 6-0.
"It was kind of hard to tell," Jones said. "It looked like it hit the top of the fence."
Rodriguez (3-2) earned the win with a solid outing. He attacked the Mets with his fastball, kept them off balance with his curveball and pitched inside effectively.
"I thought he was in and out of his delivery a little bit, but he was able to get through innings and leave runners on base," Hurdle said.
Rodriguez faltered slightly in the fifth.
Anthony Recker hit a 3-1 mistake fastball for a home run, and Juan Lagares followed with a double, but he was stranded on second.
Rodriguez allowed one run on six hits in six innings. He did not walk a batter and has walked only one in his past two starts, a span of 12 innings.
Jose Contreras made a mess in the ninth, allowing two runs that let the Mets cut the lead to four. Jason Grilli entered to record the final out and earn his 14th save.
"We were in position to put it away and we needed to win the game," Hurdle said. "We'll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow."
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published May 11, 2013 2:45 AM