Mets 6, Pirates 2
NEW YORK (AP)
Ike Davis will take a 30-homer season as proof he's not as bad as he was in the first half.
Davis connected twice to set his career high, Jenrry Mejia pitched five effective innings for his first major league win and the New York Mets beat the plummeting Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 Monday night for their fourth straight victory.
''It's definitely made myself feel a little better about the season,'' Davis said.
Davis had a career-best five RBIs and David Wright had a run-scoring single to move within two hits of tying Ed Kranepool's franchise record of 1,418 hits.
The Pirates lost for the 31st time in 43 games since improving to a season-high 16 games above .500 (63-47) on Aug. 8. They started the day 6 1/2 games back in the wild-card race with several teams ahead of them, and now need to win six of their last nine to avoid a 20th straight losing season.
''Unfortunately, the way we're going right now, this one backfired on us as well,'' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen went 1 for 3 with a triple to keep his batting average at .336 - behind only Melky Cabrera, who is at an NL-best .346 but has removed himself from consideration after being suspended for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Davis' homer to left-center off Kyle McPherson (0-2) in the fourth came after Wright walked. Davis hit a three-run shot off Jeff Karstens in the fifth to make it 6-0, a batter after Wright had an RBI single.
''You got to look at Ike Davis and say, `OK, he's legit,''` Mets manager Terry Collins said. ''You can write off the first half ... for whatever it was. The package is there.''
Davis got off to a horrendous start after the 25-year-old slugger missed much of last season with an ankle injury. He was diagnosed with a likely case of Valley Fever during spring training and didn't lift his batting average to .200 for good until July 4.
At one point his struggles were so great Collins showed his support for Davis by saying the Mets would not send him to the minors. That meant a lot to the first baseman.
''It was huge. My teammates were a huge part of that, too,'' Davis said. ''It was really cool. It worked out the way it should've worked out.''
While he's hitting just .227, Davis has three multihomer games this year, including a three-homer game on July 28 at Arizona, and has connected 18 times since the All-Star break. He leads the team with 88 RBIs.
So what's the difference?
''The difference is, I'm just not awful,'' Davis said. ''The first 2 1/2 months I was terrible. I felt like I never had played baseball before.''
Nearing the end of a lost season of their own, Mejia's outing has to be encouraging for the Mets. Rushed to the big leagues at 20 years old in 2010, the team's top pitching prospect went 0-4.
Mejia (1-1) had reconstructive elbow surgery in May 2011 after starting out in the minors.
This was Mejia's fourth appearance for the Mets this year. He gave up five runs in three innings in his first start on Sept 15 at Milwaukee.
Mejia allowed four singles and two walks Monday. The right-hander struck out four and only his last out was made by an outfielder. After going to three-ball counts on four of the first five batters, Mejia settled to make it five with a quick final two innings.
He was smiling broadly in front of his locker, where he stashed the lineup card his manager gave him.
''I hope he realizes his stuff's good enough if he's around the plate,'' Collins said. ''I thought it was a huge step for him.''
Hurdle said McPherson needed to be more aggressive in his second major league start. Instead he had trouble finding the plate and was lifted after 4 1-3 innings. He gave up four runs and four hits with three walks. He struck out three.
''I just failed to execute,'' McPherson said of the homer to Davis. ''Ball got up, elevated, and the good hitter he is, he put a good swing on it.''
NOTES: Davis' first homer was the Mets' 19th long ball aided by the new Citi Field dimensions. The visiting team has 25 such homers since they brought in the fences before this season. ... Mets RHP Frank Francisco (elbow tendinitis) has not pitched since Sept. 16 but Collins says that because there is no structural damage in the closer's arm he is still day to day. ... Hurdle said there ''zero'' hesitancy to get Karstens (5-4) another start but he'd like to see Jeff Locke (0-2), Tuesday's starter, and McPherson pitch, too. ... LHP Collin McHugh (0-2) will start for Mets on Tuesday against Locke.