Pirates fans may be losing focus
By Mike Fitzpatrick
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Wilmer Flores singled home the winning run in the 10th inning and the New York Mets stopped their seven-game losing streak Tuesday night, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-3, hours after general manager Sandy Alderson stepped down because his cancer has returned.
In a game that briefly got testy following a hard slide at second base, Michael Conforto hit a tying homer and Flores had three RBIs for the Mets (32-45), who won for only the second time in 16 home games. They had dropped 24 of 30 overall during a maddening slide that’s wiped out an 11-1 start to the season.
Before the game, the 70-year-old Alderson choked back tears as he spoke about his illness during a surprise news conference. He and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon announced that Alderson is taking a leave of absence. Alderson said his prognosis is good but he doesn’t expect to return to the job, partly because he’s “not sure coming back is warranted.”
Assistant general manager John Ricco and special assistants J.P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya will run the club’s baseball operations in Alderson’s absence.
Both dugouts and bullpens emptied in the eighth after a clean slide by Josh Harrison prevented the Mets from turning an inning-ending double play.
Harrison, who had reached on a bunt single, went straight into the bag on a grounder, forcing second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera to jump over him as he made a weak, one-hop relay to first base.
Without much on the throw, David Freese beat the play at first. Mets reliever Jeurys Familia said something to Harrison, though, and the two began jawing back and forth. As players rushed onto the field, Familia and Harrison — a second baseman himself — were kept apart. Cabrera sought out Harrison and gave him a big hug during the brief skirmish, an obvious acknowledgment he had no problem with the slide.
No punches were thrown, and Familia pumped his fist when he pitched out of a bases-loaded threat.
Conforto drew a leadoff walk in the 10th from Steven Brault (5-2) and went to second when Todd Frazier singled. Cabrera popped up a bunt for the first out, but Flores hit a grounder just inside third base to knock in Conforto.
New York has three walk-off wins this season and Flores provided the winning swing on all of them.
Tim Peterson (1-0) got three quick outs on five pitches — all strikes — for his first major league win.
Gregory Polanco gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead with a solo homer off starter Steven Matz in the seventh.
Conforto tied it in the bottom half with his 10th home run, connecting off reliever Edgar Santana.
Flores grounded a two-run single with two outs in the first to put the Mets ahead. They capitalized on a pair of wild pitches by Kuhl that got past catcher Elias Diaz, who also committed two errors in the inning.
Pittsburgh threw four wild pitches, all in the first six innings.
Matz faced the minimum through four innings and didn’t allow a hit until Pittsburgh got four straight to begin the fifth. Freese singled, Diaz doubled and slumping Jose Osuna drove in a run with a single on an 0-2 pitch. Polanco’s soft RBI single tied it, but Matz prevented further damage with the help of a nice running catch from 37-year-old right fielder Jose Bautista.
New York recalled RHP Gerson Bautista from Triple-A Las Vegas and optioned INF Luis Guillorme to the farm team. It marks Bautista’s third stint with the Mets this season. Guillorme, who made two costly errors at third base Monday night, batted .172 with four RBIs in 29 games for the Mets.
Pirates: Pittsburgh starter Chad Kuhl was removed after four innings with right forearm discomfort. With a 3-1 count on Jose Reyes in the fourth, manager Clint Hurdle and a trainer went to the mound to check on Kuhl. He threw one practice pitch and finished the inning, but was lifted for a pinch-hitter with two runners aboard in the fifth. … Rookie OF Austin Meadows was hit in the helmet by an 84 mph changeup from Matz in the first inning. Meadows also was checked by Hurdle and a trainer, but stayed in the game.
Mets: OF Brandon Nimmo, hit by a pitch on the right hand Sunday, came off the bench for the second consecutive game. This time he got a chance to swing, but fouled out as a pinch-hitter leading off the seventh.
Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (4-5, 3.98 ERA) pitches the series finale tonight. Nova is 2-0 with a 0.92 ERA in three starts since spending time on the disabled list due to a sprained right ring finger. He threw eight shutout innings in a no-decision against Arizona last Friday.
Mets: RHP Zack Wheeler (2-6, 4.85) is 0-5 in 10 starts since his last win April 29 at San Diego. He tossed seven innings last time out against the Dodgers, taking the loss after Cody Bellinger’s grand slam in the sixth snapped a scoreless tie. Wheeler threw 114 pitches in that game, his most since having Tommy John surgery in March 2015.