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Mets win battle of the shaky relievers, top Pirates with late lightning

Mets 3 Pirates 2 (PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA)

Mets record: 44-44

Mets streak: Won 2

WP - Edwin Diaz (3-1)

LP - Aroldis Chapman (1-4)

Seat on the Korner: Francisco Lindor

We select the star of the game and virtually invite him to a Seat on the Korner, just as Ralph Kiner used to do for his studio postgame show on WOR-channel 9 broadcasts in the early decades of the Mets.

Another game of making things happen for shortstop Francisco Lindor. Three for four, on base four times, scoring the first run and driving in the winning run in the ninth. Not a bad day at the office.

Need to Know

  • The Mets evened their record at 44-44, and just as important, have taken the season series from the Pirates, which gives them the tiebreaker against the Bucs if it comes to that for a wild card spot.

  • Jeff McNeil, playing left field, made a nifty fielding play on what seemed like a sure double by Pirates catcher Joey Bart in the bottom of the fifth. Bart hit a screamer past third that had double written all over it; McNeil fielded the carom off the side wall and fired a bullet to Jose Iglesias at second, throwing out Bart easily.

  • D.J. Stewart, continuing to struggle, got the start in right and went 0-for-3 before being pulled in the bottom of the seventh, perhaps for defensive purposes, but maybe not: Stewart is 0-for his past 11 and 5 for his last 52. With Brett Baty tearing it up in Syracuse -- a .354 average with four doubles, eight homers, 20 RBI, and a 1.188 OPS in 16 games -- could Stewart's time in Flushing be coming to an end?

  • The series finishes Monday with another matinee. Christian Scott takes the mound; Mitch Keller gets the ball for the Bucs.

Turning Point

Aroldis Chapman, no longer the fearsome closer that he was in his Yankee days but closing for the Pirates because regular closer David Bednar is on the IL, was shaky from the start when he took the mound in the ninth for a save. Chapman walked Francisco Alvarez, gave up a single to Harrison Bader, and, after striking out Mark Vientos and Luis Torrens, walked Luis Iglesias after throwing a wild pitch. Francisco Lindor singled to left, plating the tying and what proved to be the winning runs and providing this game's turning point.

Three Keys

Questionable Bullpen Use

Mets' manager Carlos Mendoza made some questionable bullpen moves. He got away with one -- bringing in Reed Garrett for a second day in a row. Garrett, who threw more than 20 pitches Saturday,came in to start the seventh, even though starter Sean Manaea appeared to be cruising and had only thrown 89 pitches. Garrett immediately gave up a single to Ke'Bryan Hayes, But then he struck out Oneil Cruz and got Rowdy Tellez to ground into a double play. In the eighth, Dedniel Nunez gave up a leadoff single to Jack Suwinski and a one-out single to Andrew McCutchen. Nunez then struck out Bryan Reynolds. Mystifyingly, Mendoza replaced Nunez with Edwin Diaz for what he hoped would be a four-out save. Diaz , not at his best when he comes in in the middle of an inning, walked pinch hitter Joshua Palacios and gave up a two-run single to Nick Gonzalez that gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead. Diaz, more comfortable starting an inning, pitched a clean ninth to redeem himself and get the win.

Old-Fashioned Pitchers' Duel to Start

After a somewhat rocky start -- walking two in the first inning and going to three-ball counts on five ofthe first six batters -- Sean Manaea settled down and pitched masterfully over six shutout innings. Manaea gave up only two hits and struck out six. He was matched by Luis Ortiz, the Pirates' normal long man making only his second start of the season. Ortiz gave up four hits in his six shutout innings and struck out five. Odd fact: Ortiz made his 15th appearance of the season in a day game and has been almost unhittable -- going into the game opponents had a .175 batting average against him in day games.

Lindor, Nimmo Continue to Rake

Francisco Lindor and Brandon Nimmo, the Mets' best All-Star candidates, continued to produce. With the game scoreless in the eighth, Lindor walked with two outs (after getting two hits previously). Nimmo, the team RBI leader, hit a shot to left center. Lindor got on his horse and rounded third with a head of steam. Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz, with a gun for an arm, positioned himself for a relay that would have made for an exciting play at the plate. But Cruz had to reach for center fielder Michael Taylor's throw and couldn't handle it cleanly. Lindor scored for the first run of the game. Then, in the ninth, Lindor hit a single with the bases loaded that retook the lead for the Mets and won the game.

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