Mets 6, Pirates 2
NEW YORK (AP)
Pitching on a rainy night in a nearly empty ballpark, Mike Pelfrey stayed focused on his preseason goals: 15 wins, 200 innings.
The big right-hander checked off that 15th victory Thursday, tossing seven strong innings and hitting a tiebreaking single to help the New York Mets finish a four-game sweep with a 6-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
''Anytime you meet one of those goals, you're satisfied,'' said Pelfrey, who needs 17 1-3 innings over his final three starts to reach 200 for the second time. ''No matter who you're playing, I think you need to find motivation.''
Slumping rookie Lucas Duda had a two-run double and the Mets rallied for their first four-game sweep since June 2006 at Arizona. New York (74-73) has won seven of nine to move over .500 for the first time since Aug. 24.
Angel Pagan added three hits, two RBIs and a dazzling catch in center field. Pelfrey (15-9) extended his career high for wins by following up a victory over Philadelphia with a solid effort against the punchless Pirates.
''We're playing the best baseball we have in a while - even if the Pirates have made some mistakes,'' Mets manager Jerry Manuel said.
Pittsburgh, with the worst record in the majors at 48-98, fell to 15-59 away from home. The Pirates must win three of their last seven road games (three in St. Louis, four at Florida) during the final week of the season to avoid matching the 1963 Mets for the worst road record (17-64) in a 162-game season.
Pelfrey allowed two runs and six hits. He also put New York up 3-2 with a two-out single off Sean Gallagher through the left side in the sixth. That scored Duda, who doubled with one out off Wilfredo Ledezma (0-3).
''I love hits. But I found out in that at-bat how bad of a hitter I was,'' Pelfrey said with a smile. ''I thought I hit a fastball, and I look up (at the videoboard) and I see it was a slider.''
Ike Davis added a sacrifice fly in the seventh after a balk by Chris Resop. Pagan hit a two-run double in the eighth to make it 6-2.
Pedro Feliciano struck out two in a perfect inning and Bobby Parnell finished with a 1-2-3 ninth. The four-game winning streak is New York's longest since an eight-game run June 10-18.
The Pirates dropped to 0-7 at Citi Field, which opened last year.
''We were right there, but Pelfrey's good. He made the pitches he had to make,'' manager John Russell said.
With a ''crowd'' that numbered in the hundreds at the start, cavernous Citi Field was eerily quiet at times - except for the vendors hawking Crackerjack and a cheering section in left field for Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who went to high school in New York.
Some of those who did want to come out might not have been able to. A powerful storm tore through the city less than two hours before game time, knocking down trees and power lines. Service was shut down on the elevated No. 7 subway train and the Long Island Rail Road, both of which carry passengers to Citi Field.
Fans were warned before the game to take cover on the concourses, but play began only 12 minutes late. Those in attendance were soon invited down to fill expensive seats in the lower level - many moved back up the aisles later to get under the overhangs during a steady drizzle.
Alvarez doubled in the second and scored on John Bowker's single. Ronny Cedeno hit an RBI triple in the fourth, but the Pirates could have had a big inning if not for a spectacular play by Pagan on Bowker's drive to deep right-center with two on.
''Things just didn't go our way. All we can do is keep on playing and hope the wins come,'' Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones said.
After a long dash, Pagan made a sliding catch on the warning track in front of the 415-foot sign. Then he started an 8-4-3 relay that doubled off Alvarez at first base, with Pagan pumping his fist from the seat of his pants as the Mets completed the play.
Pagan thought his eyes were closed when he made the grab ''right at the last second.''
''He hit that ball real well and I was just trying to prevent a triple. But as I got closer to the ball, I saw that I had a chance so I went for it. I couldn't believe I made that catch,'' Pagan said. ''I got fired up because it kept Pelfrey out of a jam. It was a great moment.''
Davis and Josh Thole singled in the bottom half off Charlie Morton, who has an 8.61 ERA in 14 major league starts this season. Duda hit a grounder past a diving Jones and into the right-field corner for his second hit in 35 big league at-bats.
''I kind of forgot a little bit what first base feels like,'' Duda said. ''It just feels good to make some contact.''
NOTES: Struggling LHP Zach Duke (7-14, 5.78 ERA) will make his next scheduled start for Pittsburgh on Sunday against Arizona. The Pirates had considered pulling Duke out of the rotation. ... The previous time Pittsburgh was swept in a four-game series by the Mets was in June 1997 at Shea Stadium. ... New York's previous four-game sweep at home was in August 2003 against Colorado at Shea Stadium. ... Mets CF Carlos Beltran rested.