Pirates ride 4-run seventh to sweep of Mets
NEW YORK -- The Pirates continued their late-inning dominance of the Mets, riding another dominant bullpen effort to a 8-1 win on Sunday to sweep the three-game set at Citi Field and all six meetings this season.
"I'm really proud of our men, the way they showed up this weekend. It took contributions from everybody," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said after his team completed its first series sweep in the Mets' home park since 2004, when it was Shea Stadium.
A key Bobby Parnell error in the seventh opened the door for the Pirates to break a 1-1 tie, and they piled on with seven runs on seven hits over the final two frames.
That allowed Arquimedes Caminero to notch his fourth victory, the 16th straight winning decision by the Pirates' bullpen since June 25. Not since 1909 has any bullpen maintained such a flawless streak, when the eventual World Series champion Pirates garnered 22 consecutive winning decisions from their relievers.
Travis d'Arnaud's homer was all New York could muster in support of starter Matt Harvey, who wiggled through several jams to limit Pittsburgh to one run over six. Neither Harvey nor Pirates starter Jeff Locke returned after a 42-minute rain delay segmented the bottom of the sixth.
The loss dropped still very playoff-hopeful New York to 3-17 this season against the top three teams in the NL Central, all of which are holding spots for postseason baseball. They're a combined 0-13 against the Pirates and Cubs after suffering three late-inning losses this weekend. Parnell took the loss after allowing a go-ahead single to Gregory Polanco, just as he did on Friday night. But he'll be haunted more by his errant throw to second one batter before.
"Today, it got ugly. That frustrates me a little bit," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "It's crunch time. 44 to go, 4 1/2-game lead ... I won't look back at what might have been."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Roll it up, or not: After walking the leadoff man in the seventh, Parnell induced a potential double-play comebacker from pinch-hitter Michael Morse. But shortstop Ruben Tejada was a step slow covering second base, then screened backup man Daniel Murphy as Parnell's throw sailed into center field. It proved costly as Polanco singled on the next pitch to break a 1-1 tie.
"The guy that's covering the base has to be there," Collins said. "End of story. That's all."
Bucs relievers zero in: Caminero, Antonio Bastardo and Joakim Soria combined to throw 3 2/3 scoreless innings on Sunday, giving the Pittsburgh bullpen 16 such frames over this weekend set. They provided quite the safety net for Locke, who enjoyed a breezy afternoon before an isolated thunderstorm stymied his day. Locke scattered four hits over 5 1/3 innings, striking out five. More >
"The way the bullpen pitched this weekend, man -- outstanding," Hurdle said. "Our guys picked each other up, throughout the day, throughout the weekend."
Sly, but come up shy: After a leadoff walk in the fifth by light-hitting Pedro Florimon brought up Locke, the Pirates tried to be aggressive by taking off the bunt after one pitch and having Locke swing away -- but he grounded into a double play, negating the ensuing triple by Polanco.
Rain men: A 42-minute rain delay with the score tied at 1 in the bottom of the sixth may have favored the Pirates, with neither starter continuing on after the stoppage. The Mets got hard-throwing Caminero in Locke's place, but the Bucs got to swap Harvey -- who at 103 pitches was done anyway, according to manager Terry Collins -- for Parnell.
"Fortunately, we've been really good at dealing with rain delays this year. We've had a lot of it," said Hurdle, whose players have endured total delays of 18 hours, 44 minutes. "They find a way to unplug, then stick that plug back in and go."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With Sunday's win, the Pirates completed their 13th series sweep of the season, including two-game Interleague sweeps -- their most since 13 in 1991. The Bucs have a 10-1 record this season when going for sweeps of three-game sets, compared to 4-10 in 2014. More >
It did not take long for the Pirates to prevail in their challenge of a safe call at first on Yoenis Cespedes' grounder to third with two out in the fifth. In a matter of seconds, the call was overturned, ending the inning.
In the top of the eighth, Eric O'Flaherty induced a slow roller off the bat of Polanco and shuffled the ball to first for the out. Or so it appeared. Collins challenged after Polanco was initially called safe, and the call was overturned.
Pirates: Right-hander Gerrit Cole will start on Monday at 7:05 p.m. ET when the Bucs return home to open a three-game set against the D-backs at PNC Park. Cole (14-6, 2.48 ERA) will be looking to avoid a fourth straight winless start for just the second time in his career.
Mets: After an off-day on Monday, right-hander Jacob deGrom (11-6, 2.03 ERA) will get the ball on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET for a brief two-game Interleague set against the Orioles at Camden Yards. New York hopes to have slugger Lucas Duda back in the lineup. He's been limited to one at-bat since Aug. 11 due to a back strain.
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