Flores, Mets beat Bucs 4-3 in 10 innings to stop skid
NEW YORK (AP) Desperate to win after an emotional day at Citi Field, the New York Mets sent just the right man to the plate in the 10th inning.
Wilmer Flores singled home the decisive run and the 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.
”We really wanted to focus in and just make sure that we bounce back today, of all days, and play a little bit better,” outfielder Michael Conforto said. ”I think we showed a little fight there.”
In a game that briefly got testy following a hard slide at second base, 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 skid that’s wiped out an 11-1 start to the season.
New York has three walk-off wins this year and Flores provided the final swing on all of them. He leads the majors with nine walk-off RBIs since 2014, matching David Wright for the most in Mets history.
”It was tough being out there playing, but you’ve got to concentrate,” Flores said. ”Sandy is one of us and we support him 100 percent and hopefully he’ll get better.”
Before the game, players said the 70-year-old Alderson broke down a bit as he addressed the team in the clubhouse. During the surprise news conference that followed, his voice quavered when he spoke about his illness .
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 the absence of Alderson, diagnosed with cancer at the end of the 2015 season – when the Mets reached the World Series. Back then, he had surgery and underwent chemotherapy but kept working full-time.
”Honestly, I’m here – we’re all here – because he believed in us,” Mets pitcher Steven Matz said. ”And I think for me personally, especially now under these circumstances, I want to prove that he was right. So yeah, there was definitely I would say extra emotion out there hearing that news.”
Both dugouts and bullpens emptied in the eighth when tempers flared after a clean slide by Josh Harrison prevented the Mets from turning an inning-ending double play.
Harrison went straight into the bag, forcing second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera to jump over him as he made a weak, one-hop relay to first base that was too late.
”I don’t think I even touched him,” Harrison said. ”Broke up a double play without touching the guy or hurting the guy. At the end of the day, I think that’s playing the game the right way.”
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.
”It’s over and done with,” Harrison said. ”I think what (Familia) saw was just the latter part. He might have turned around and saw Cabrera hobbling. It wasn’t anything due to me contacting him.”
No punches were thrown, and Familia was pumped when he pitched out of a bases-loaded threat .
”Maybe it was a good thing we cleared the benches. Showed a little fight and fire,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said.
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 shot just inside third base to knock in Conforto.
Tim Peterson (1-0) got three outs on five pitches for his first major league win.
Gregory Polanco homered for the second consecutive game and had an RBI single for the Pirates, who have dropped six of seven.
Conforto went deep in the seventh, connecting off reliever Edgar Santana. New York also got seven effective innings from Matz and some fine defense from 37-year-old right fielder Jose Bautista .
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 Chad 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.
Pirates: Kuhl was removed after four innings with right forearm discomfort. … Rookie OF Austin Meadows was hit in the helmet by an 84 mph changeup from Matz in the first inning. Meadows was checked by manager Clint 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.
Pirates RHP Ivan Nova (4-5, 3.98 ERA) starts the series finale Wednesday night against RHP Zack Wheeler (2-6, 4.85).
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