Despite opening up a 3-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning in New York Thursday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Pirates were foiled again in their attempts to win when a three-run home run by Mets third baseman David Wright broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the fifth and drove the Mets to victory, 6-5.
With the loss, the Pirates—mathematically eliminated from postseason play yesterday—fell to 76-80, and are now faced with the task of winning out against the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves if the Buccos hope to battle for their first winning season in 19 years.
Kevin Correia (11-11) took the loss on the mound for Pittsburgh, as he failed to make it through the fifth inning after manager Clint Hurdle yanked him following the homerun Correia allowed to Wright. Correia allowed six runs on seven hits, and struck out only two.
On the opposite side, R.A. Dickey (20-6) picked up the win, giving up three runs on eight hits over seven and two-thirds innings pitched while tying his career-high in strikeouts by fanning 13 Bucco batters. With the win, Dickey became the first knuckleballer to win 20 games since Joe Niekro accomplished the feat for Houston in 1980.
The Pirates opened the scoring in the matinee contest when catcher Rod Barajas hit a ground rule double over the right field wall, scoring outfielder Garrett Jones and sending Travis Snider to third. The ensuing batter, shortstop Jordy Mercer, reached base on an infield single to third that scored Snider and gave the Pirates an early 2-0 lead.
After the Pirates staked Correia to a lead in the top of the second, Ike Davis led off the bottom half with a solo drive to right-field, immediately cutting the lead in half.
But Snider helped prevent the Mets from tying the game when, two batters later, he climbed the right-field fence to rob Mets batter Mike Baxter of a home run, and made arguably the most notable defensive play of the year for Pittsburgh.
In the fourth, Barajas got a run back for the Pirates by hitting his 11th home run of the year a solo shot to left that put the Pirates up by two again at 3-1. But the lead was again quickly cut in half after a single by Scott Hairston that scored David Murphy.
Then, in the bottom of the fifth, the wheels came off for Correia. Murphy singled to center, scoring Ruben Tejada and tying the game at 3-3.
Wright followed Murphy’s single by blowing the game open for the Mets, taking a 2-1 pitch from Correia 389 feet out to right-center field, and landing the knockout blow on Correia’s day on the mound.
For the Pirates, the bullpen gave the team a chance to win the game after Correia’s departure. Hisanori Takahashi, Chris Resop, and Tony Watson combined to work 3.2 innings of shutout, one-hit baseball.
With the Mets offense locked down, Pittsburgh had an opportunity to make some in-roads in the New York lead, but failed to do so against Dickey and the bullpen efforts of Jon Rauch and Bobby Parnell.
Rauch finished the eighth for Dickey, and got an out in the top of the ninth. But Alex Presley hit his 10th home run of the year to bring the Pirates within one run,
But, manager Terry Collins brought Parnell in to close out the game, who then retired Josh Harrison on a groundout and Jose Tabata on a flyout to pick up his fifth save of the year.
Most concerning for the Pirates was Andrew McCutchen’s departure from the game in the bottom of the seventh. McCutchen left the game with discomfort in his knee after attempting to make a diving catch on a ball off the bat of Murphy.
This adds to the Pirates injury woes as Neil Walker missed his third consecutive game with a lower back injury.
For the second game in a row, McCutchen went 0-4, dropping his average to .332—ahead of the Giants’ Buster Posey (.331) and the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina (.330) in the chase for the National League batting title.
The Pirates begin their final homestand of the season Friday against the Cincinnati Reds, who recently clinched the NL Central title.