Mets ride emotions into rubber match with Pirates

NEW YORK — An emotional Tuesday may have brought the end to an era for the New York Mets. But the Mets know there’s no better way to pay tribute to Sandy Alderson than by proving Wednesday night that Tuesday night’s win was no fluke.

The Mets will look to earn a series victory Wednesday night, when they host the Pittsburgh Pirates in the rubber match of a three-game set at Citi Field.

Zack Wheeler (2-6, 4.85 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for New York against Pittsburgh’s Ivan Nova (4-5, 3.98 ERA) in a battle of right-handers.

The Mets concluded a whirlwind day by edging the Pirates 4-3 in 10 innings. Wilmer Flores, who had a two-run single in the first inning, delivered his third walk-off hit of the season and the ninth walk-off hit of his career when his single down the third-base line scored Michael Conforto from first base with one out.

The Mets (32-45) snapped a seven-game losing streak hours after learning Alderson, who has been the team’s general manager since October 2010, would be taking an indefinite leave of absence to battle a recurrence of cancer. He was originally diagnosed in 2015 and underwent treatment following that season.

Three of Alderson’s assistants — John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya — will share the general manager’s role while Alderson is out.

Alderson said during a pregame press conference that the cancer returned in April. He informed players of his diagnosis during a pregame meeting that left many players in tears but also may have crystallized their focus.

“We have a job to do and lately we haven’t been doing it up to our potential,” Conforto said. “So we really wanted to focus in and just make sure that we bounce back today, of all days, and play a little bit better. I think we showed a little fight there. We battled back and scratched together enough runs to win a ballgame tonight. So hopefully that gets us on the right path.”

The Pirates (37-42) were hoping a wire-to-wire 6-4 victory in Monday’s opener would get them back on the right track, but Tuesday’s loss was the sixth in the last seven games.

On Wednesday, the Pirates will be seeking only their second series win in their last 13 series dating back to May 17, a span in which they are 12-25.

“I think I shared with our club — I don’t believe I’ve ever been through a rough patch of 34 games since I’ve been in the major leagues as a player, coach or manager,” said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who reached the bigs as a player in 1977. “And I’ve had enough. There’s a point in time you stop talking about being a good team, now you go play like a good team. Because your record’s telling you you’re not a good team.”

Wheeler will be looking to earn his first win in almost two months. He took the loss Friday after allowing four runs over seven innings as the Mets fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-2. Wheeler is 0-5 with a 5.13 ERA in 10 starts since his most recent victory April 29.

Nova didn’t factor into the decision Friday, when he allowed three hits over eight scoreless innings in the Pirates’ 2-1, 13-inning loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was the second time this season Nova has tossed eight scoreless innings. He also didn’t earn a decision in Pittsburgh’s 1-0 win over the Detroit Tigers on April 26.

Wheeler didn’t factor into the decision in his lone previous start against the Pirates on May 27, 2017, when he gave up three runs over six innings as the Mets fell 5-4 in 10 innings.

Nova is 1-0 with a 2.82 ERA in four career appearances (three starts) against the Mets.