Bucs take advantage of Mets’ bullpen in 9th

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — David Freese hit a go-ahead, two-run single and the Pittsburgh Pirates rallied for four runs in the ninth inning to beat the New York Mets 5-3 on Wednesday night.

Gregory Polanco had an RBI single and Josh Bell added a sacrifice fly in the ninth as the Pirates, blanked by Zack Wheeler most of the night, came back against a beleaguered New York bullpen to win for just the second time in eight games.

Wilmer Flores homered and Asdrubal Cabrera had three hits for New York, which has dropped eight of nine. Mets relievers have 21 losses this season, most in the majors.

One night after snapping a seven-game skid, the Mets (32-46) completed a 1-5 homestand by losing for the 15th time in their last 17 games at Citi Field. They have dropped 25 of 32 overall and gone 11 consecutive series without winning one.

Elias Diaz began the comeback with a leadoff single on an 0-2 pitch from closer Jeurys Familia (3-4). Corey Dickerson also singled on 0-2, sending Diaz to third. Polanco drove in Diaz with a single for the Pirates’ third straight two-strike hit.

Familia, who threw 28 pitches in a scoreless outing Tuesday, was lifted after walking Jordy Mercer on four pitches to load the bases. It was the first time in his career that Familia took the mound and failed to get an out.

Freese punched Anthony Swarzak’s first pitch into right-center to drive in Dickerson and Polanco, giving Pittsburgh a 4-3 lead. Freese had entered as part of a double switch in the eighth.

Bell’s sacrifice fly made it 5-3, and the Pirates took two of three in the series.

Felipe Vazquez (3-2) threw two scoreless innings for the win.

A dominant Wheeler scattered four hits over seven scoreless innings. He struck out seven and threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of his 26 batters. But after his bullpen blew a 3-0 lead, the right-hander is 0-5 in 11 starts since his last win April 29 at San Diego.

Pittsburgh broke through in the eighth against Robert Gsellman. Starling Marte led off with a pinch-hit double, stole his third base of the series and scored on Austin Meadows’ sacrifice fly.

Bell singled to chase Gsellman, but rookie Tim Peterson got out of the inning.

Jose Bautista hit an RBI double in the third and scored on Asdrubal Cabrera’s single to put the Mets in front 2-0. Flores, who had seven RBIs in the series, added a solo homer in the sixth off starter Ivan Nova.

Health report

Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard (finger) threw a bullpen Tuesday and looked good, according to manager Mickey Callaway. Syndergaard threw all his pitches and will progress to facing hitters. . Callaway said outfielders Jay Bruce (hip) and Yoenis Cespedes (hip flexor) are both day to day with soreness and the team is waiting for that to subside before increasing their activity. Cespedes is expected to meet with the coaching staff during the upcoming trip to Miami. … OF Brandon Nimmo went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts in his return to the top of the lineup. Nimmo came off the bench in the previous two games after getting hit by a pitch on the right pinkie Sunday.

Pirates: C Francisco Cervelli (concussion) was cleared to resume exercising and went through a 45-minute workout in Pittsburgh. … RHP Michael Feliz (shoulder) remains isn’t throwing yet but is expected to play catch in the coming days. … After being removed from Tuesday’s game with right forearm discomfort, RHP Chad Kuhl underwent a series of tests and an update is expected in the next day or two.

A survivor tree

The seedling of a Callery pear tree that once stood on the site of the original World Trade Center was planted outside Citi Field in special recognition of Rusty Staub for his tireless charity work through the Police & Fire Widows’ & Children Benefit Fund. Staub died on March 29 after an illness. The seedlings from the original tree, now known as the Survivor Tree, are planted to create lasting and living memorials to the victims of 9/11, their families, communities and the nation.

Up next

Mets: Begin a three-game series at Miami on Friday. RHP Jacob deGrom (5-3, major league-low 1.69 ERA) pitches for New York, while the Marlins will call up highly regarded prospect Sandy Alcantara from Triple-A New Orleans to make his 2018 debut. Alcantara, a 22-year-old right-hander, was acquired from St. Louis as part of a package for All-Star outfielder Marcell Ozuna in the offseason.

Pirates: Open a three-game series in San Diego on Friday. Joe Musgrove (2-3, 4.59 ERA) draws the start for Pittsburgh in his hometown. The 25-year-old right-hander has struggled of late, allowing 16 earned runs over his last four starts.

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