Bartolo Colon confounded the Pirates with speed and movement variations on his fastball May 28 at Citi Field in New York.
Sunday, there was no such dominance.
The Pirates surged to an early lead against Colon, got a home run from Pedro Alvarez and rode six shutout innings from Edinson Volquez to edge the Mets, 5-2.
The victory gave the Pirates a 3-1 series win, their third in a row, and after having today off they will take a 42-40 record into July.
“First and foremost, I don’t think [Colon] had his A-game. He can still compete and win games without it,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “The biggest difference was when balls were left out over the plate, we put good swings on them.”
The Pirates went ahead, 3-0, on four hits in the first inning, getting a two-RBI single from Ike Davis and an RBI double from Alvarez.
The hit was Davis’ first against his former team since being traded in April and he followed it with another single in the eighth inning.
He said seeing Colon a second time helped.
“I don’t think a lot of us had ever faced him,” Davis said. “He still was good, still was really tough. We just happened to get three key hits when there were guys on base and that was the game. Alvarez doesn’t hit that home run? Who knows. He has so many strikes, so many different pitches. Hits corners and they all move differently. He’s tough.”
Alvarez, who appears to be heating up again, drove his 13th home run of the season over the Clemente Wall in the fourth after Josh Harrison hit a leadoff double to make it 5-0.
“Really just trying to put a good swing on any pitches he left out over the plate,” Alvarez said. “He didn’t do that very often his last start. I thought we did a pretty good job as a team of putting good swings on pitches we can manage that were left out over the plate.”
Volquez allowed eight hits and at least one runner in every inning, but battled through each in another very strong start. He struck out seven and issued an intentional walk.
“It was just so fun to watch him go to work in the third, fourth and sixth innings,” Hurdle said. “Those were big innings. … He collected himself, slowed the game down, followed the mitt, made pitches. Fun to watch.”
Volquez gave up a one-out double and single to Eric Young Jr., then Ruben Tejada in the third before getting out of the jam. He struck out Daniel Murphy and got Curtis Granderson on a flyout to right field.
In the fourth, Volquez gave up a leadoff double to Lucas Duda, but got a groundout and two strikeouts sandwiched around an intentional walk.
In the sixth, he gave up back-to-back singles, then induced a lineout and double-play grounder to end the inning.
“It’s no fun when you’ve got runners in scoring position. But the sooner you’re able to throw the right pitch and get out of there, everything is fine for everybody,” Volquez said. “ ‘Oh, he was in a jam, but he knows how to get out of there.’ That’s what I did. I was able to throw a lot of good pitches in the strike zone.”
Neil Walker barehanded a grounder by Young in the seventh and threw it away, allowing Young to reach third on a single with one out, but reliever Justin Wilson got out of the inning with a strikeout and lineout to the shortstop.
Tony Watson pitched a perfect eighth for the Pirates.
Jared Hughes gave up two runs and three singles in two-thirds of an inning in the ninth and left with one runner on base.
Mark Melancon came in to finish it out. He gave up a single to Murphy, which put runners on the corners and brought the tying run to the plate, but got Granderson to pop up to right field to end the game.
The PNC Park attendance was 37,290. The series attendance against the Mets was 150,819, which marked the largest attendance in four-game history at PNC Park.
Jenn Menendez: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @JennMenendez First Published June 29, 2014 12:00 AM