Pirates beat Mets, 3-2, for third win in a row

NEW YORK -- Mark Melancon and Brandon Inge had done their jobs. All they could do was wait.

The baseball was suspended 20 feet above Inge and the infield, deflected there by the first-base bag on a ground ball.

"I'm just willing it to get to me," Inge said.

The ball eventually fell, Inge made the out and the play preserved the Pirates' lead in a 3-2 win Sunday against the New York Mets at Citi Field.

The Pirates head back home after winning three of four against the Mets and taking a game started by Matt Harvey, the Mets' young ace who has dominated the first six weeks of the season.

Considering Clint Barmes homered off Harvey and Mets catcher John Buck stole his first base since 2009, the odd bounce, on the final batter of the eighth inning, dovetailed with the day's events. Daniel Murphy doubled off Melancon with one out and went to third on a passed ball. Melancon issued his first walk of the season, a semi-intentional base on balls to David Wright. Melancon struck out Davis swinging, and Wright stole second to put runners on second and third.

Lucas Duda then grounded a ball down the first-base line that hit the bag and bounced high in the air.

"My first thought when I saw the ball go up, 'OK, there's the tying run,' " Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "I'm watching Wright to see if they're going to roll him and if [we're] going to have enough awareness to get the runner out at home."

Inge, ranging to his left, caught the ball and fired to Melancon covering first base -- "Hard as I possibly could without killing him" -- to retire Duda.

Strikeouts from the relievers kept the score even and later preserved the Pirates' lead. In addition to Melancon's strikeout of Davis, Justin Wilson struck out pinch-hitter Justin Turner to strand a runner on third and end the seventh.

"This year we've got more guys involved that have swing-and-miss stuff," Hurdle said. "Flat-out live fastballs and a secondary pitch that's sharp."

Wilson (3-0) earned the win despite allowing the tying run to score in the seventh. Jason Grilli earned his 15th save.

The Pirates broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth after left-hander Scott Rice walked Andrew McCutchen with one out. Hurdle pinch-hit Gaby Sanchez for Garrett Jones, knowing Mets manager Terry Collins would counter with a right-hander, and Hurdle preferred Sanchez against a righty than Jones against Rice. Sure enough, Brandon Lyon entered and walked Sanchez.

"I figure you start with [Travis] Snider, they're not going to bring in the righty right away for McCutchen, so that's going to give my best hitter a shot at a left-hander," Hurdle said.

Closer Bobby Parnell entered to face Pedro Alvarez with two on and two outs. Alvarez singled to score McCutchen and give the Pirates a 3-2 lead.

Starter Jeanmar Gomez left the game after five innings and 65 pitches because of tightness in his right calf. Gomez took a ground ball off the calf in the first inning, and his calf tightened on him as the game progressed.

"I started feeling it in the third inning," Gomez said. "I got ice and everything and hopefully I can be ready for the next one."

Gomez retired the final 10 batters he faced and allowed one run on two hits in five innings.

"He got better as the game went on," Hurdle said. "His sinker really came into play in the last couple of innings."

Harvey allowed two runs in seven innings. He entered the game with a league-leading 1.28 ERA and .133 batting average against. In his previous start, he retired the first 20 batters he faced. He threw nine shutout innings, allowing one hit and no walks and striking out 12.

Duda gave the Mets the lead in the second with a home run to center field.

Barmes entered the game with one home run this season, hit off Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg. He hit his second out to left field against Harvey, tying the score at 1-1 in the third. In the past 12 games, Barmes has gone 13 for 35 with two home runs.

"It's been a lot more fun for me, I'll say that," Barmes said.

Later in the third, Harvey walked Starling Marte. A perfect hit-and-run by Marte and Snider put runners on the corners, McCutchen walked to load the bases and Marte scored on Jones' sacrifice fly to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead.

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Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published May 13, 2013 4:00 AM


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