Wheeler’s big game helps Mets top Pirates
PITTSBURGH — Zack Wheeler didn’t receive much help from the New York Mets on offense. Luckily for the Mets, Wheeler was prepared to help himself.
The right-hander pitched six strong innings and drove in the lone run, leading New York to a 1-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.
“I think being successful definitely helps,” Wheeler said. “I have the same confidence, or same demeanor, but when you’re getting guys out on a consistent basis and doing what you want to do pitch by pitch, then it makes it a lot easier and fun.”
Wheeler (5-6) allowed five hits with seven strikeouts and one walk, and got his fourth RBI of the season on a double in the fifth. He won a third straight start after giving up a combined six runs in 14ª innings over his past two.
“He’s just steady as he can be these days,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “So, it’s fun to get to run him out there every five days. … The way he’s attacking hitters now, he knows his stuff is good. He knows he’s going to beat them. That makes for the most effective pitcher.”
The Mets split the four-game series with the Pirates, who lost for just the fourth time in their past 19 games.
Right-handed reliever Anthony Swarzak retired the side in order, striking out two, in the ninth for his third save.
As much as he enjoyed shutting out Pittsburgh through six, Wheeler said he was more proud of his double. It helped his own cause after Luis Guillorme singled with two outs. Wheeler sent a drive off Joe Musgrove (4-5) over right fielder Gregory Polanco to score Guillorme from second.
“It was a fun battle,” Musgrove said. “It was a pitcher’s duel for the most part of the game. I think he probably feels pretty good right now being able to win the game himself with the big double there. It was well-pitched game on both sides.”
Musgrove didn’t allow a hit until the fifth, when he gave up a leadoff single to Austin Jackson before the two hits from Guillorme and Wheeler. Two Mets reached base in the first four innings: Jackson walked in the second and Brandon Nimmo was hit by a pitch in the fourth.
After going at least seven innings his previous two starts, Musgrove went seven again and gave up five hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
“Everybody’s going to love playing behind a guy that works quick and gets outs,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “(Musgrove) has an edge to everything he does as well. … He’s definitely got some edge.”
The Pirates had a hit in five of the first six innings, including each of the first four. Gregory Polanco, who was 3 for 4 with two steals, was left stranded at second twice when David Freese flied out to right in the first and Elias Diaz grounded out to short in the sixth.
Mets: CF Jackson, who was 2 for 3 with one walk, started for the first time since New York acquired him Friday. He struck out in his first appearance for the Mets, a pinch-hit at-bat in a 5-4 loss Friday. In 59 games with the San Francisco Giants this season, Jackson hit .242 with 13 RBIs.
Pirates: Freese returned to the lineup after having one pinch-hit at-bat Saturday. He played first base with 1B Josh Bell on the 10-day disabled list with a left oblique strain sustained Friday.
Mets: LHP Steven Matz (5-8, 3.79) will attempt win two straight for the first time this season when he faces the Washington Nationals on Tuesday. Matz picked up the win while allowing four runs on three hits in his last start after losing his previous three.
Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (7-8, 3.73) will look to continue his hot stretch when he takes the mound against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. Despite losing his last start, Taillon has allowed a combined four runs in 18 1/3 innings over his past three appearances.