Manager Clint Hurdle stood in the dugout in the 11th inning of the Pirates' 3-2 win against New York Friday night, watching Mets pitcher Gonzalez Germen make his major league debut. Germen, 25, had a 5.52 ERA this season for Class AAA Las Vegas.
"Somebody made a comment in the stands over my shoulder, 'He's got a five and a half ERA,' and I wanted to turn around and say, well, if you've ever been to the [hitter-friendly] PCL and Las Vegas, that's not bad," Hurdle joked.
On second base stood Andrew McCutchen, his left hand smarting from a spike after he stole second to put himself in scoring position.
"I wish I could have went a little earlier," McCutchen said. "It worked out, I was able to get in scoring position and be able to get the next couple guys an opportunity to drive me in."
At the plate, Jordy Mercer wanted to go home.
Mets (Torres 0-1) vs. Pirates (Burnett 4-6), 7:15 p.m.
"We were all ready to go," Mercer said. "We've had some long games."
Mercer's walk-off single ended the game in front of a sellout crowd of 39,036 at PNC Park.
"You always want to be that guy," Mercer said. "You always want to get the game-winning hit, you always want to drive in the game-winning run. Luckily, it was me [Friday night], I don't know."
Germen (0-1) walked McCutchen in the 11th. He struck out Pedro Alvarez, but McCutchen stole second, and with first base open Germen intentionally walked Russell Martin.
Gaby Sanchez struck out swinging, but Mercer's ground-ball single up the middle scored McCutchen with the winning run.
"We've seen a lot of rollover ground balls lately because the league's trying some different things and figuring him out," Hurdle said. "I really like the way he stood in there and saw something he liked and got after it and kept it in the middle."
The Pirates and Mets each had chances to score in extra innings, but a series of pitching changes designed for particular matchups ensured that the 2-2 tie held.
"You're trying to get matchups when you think they make sense," Hurdle said. "A lot of guys had a chance to get on the mound and pitch, and the pitching all night was really good for both sides."
Charlie Morton completed seven innings and allowed two runs on six hits. He walked one and struck out four.
Morton walked three and five batters in his previous two starts not shortened by weather. He walked one batter in his first two starts combined. Despite the walk totals, he entered the game with a 3.38 ERA.
"I'm in a good spot," Morton said. "I still have a lot of ways I can improve on command."
Morton finished five innings in only 62 pitches and allowed three hits in that span. He threw primarily fastballs, both two-seam and four-seam, and located them on the inner half of the plate against left-handed batters without letting them drift into the sweet spot.
Eric Young Jr. grounded a double down the third-base line, just out of Alvarez's reach, in the sixth. Mercer made a nice play up the middle on Danny Murphy's grounder to save a run, but Young reached third. David Wright's single to right scored a run and cut the Pirates' lead to 2-1.
Morton fell behind Kirk Nieuwenhuis, 2-0, in the seventh. He grooved a fastball to start the climb back into the count and Nieuwenhuis crushed it to right-center field to tie the score at 2-2.
"I was trying to go down and away," Morton said. "Just left it up and in. Came back right over the middle."
Jeremy Hefner kept up with Morton and kept the game tight. He allowed two runs in seven innings without a walk.
Alvarez showed off for Wright, the NL Home Run Derby captain who was booed for not initially putting Alvarez in the competition, in the first inning. Two batters after Jose Tabata beat a throw to first on a weak grounder, Alvarez hit Hefner's first pitch into the Mets'bullpen for his 24th home run.
After that, Hefner retired the next 14 batters he faced. Marte finally broke the streak with a double in the sixth, but he ran into an out between second and third when Tabata grounded back to Hefner.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published July 13, 2013 2:45 AM