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Trio of early HRs leads Mets past Pirates

MLB.com

NEW YORK -- The Mets' homer-dependent offense, so fickle by nature, is coming alive again.

Neil Walker, Jay Bruce and Wilmer Flores all cranked balls over the fence Saturday against struggling Pirates starter Tyler Glasnow, powering the Mets to a 4-2 win over the Pirates at Citi Field.

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NEW YORK -- The Mets' homer-dependent offense, so fickle by nature, is coming alive again.

Neil Walker, Jay Bruce and Wilmer Flores all cranked balls over the fence Saturday against struggling Pirates starter Tyler Glasnow, powering the Mets to a 4-2 win over the Pirates at Citi Field.

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"I think we're all seeing the ball pretty well," said Mets first baseman Lucas Duda, who along with Walker collected multiple hits. "Jay tonight, Neil, [Michael] Conforto, as well. It's nice when people are clicking. It was nice to get a win tonight."

Video: PIT@NYM: Bruce drills a solo home run to right-center

All of the Mets' runs came via the long ball, which is hardly unusual for a team that led the National League in percentage of runs scored by homers last season. But that number had plummeted from 51 percent in 2016 to 38 percent entering Saturday's play, due in part to the Mets' middle-of-the-pack standing on total home runs.

Glasnow provided at least a temporary answer for them, leaving enough pitches out over the plate for Walker, Bruce and Flores to capitalize. The young Pirates right-hander allowed four runs in five innings on five hits and three walks, also striking out five to extend his NL rookie lead to 49.

"It just comes down to pitch execution," Glasnow said. "When I needed it, I didn't have it."

• Glasnow forced to pitch from behind vs. Mets

Video: PIT@NYM: Glasnow whiffs Gsellman in the 4th inning

The homers made a winner out of Mets starter Robert Gsellman, who struck out six over 5 1/3 innings. A trio of relievers combined on the final 11 outs, with closer Addison Reed nailing down a two-inning save.

"We felt like we were on a power play the whole night and couldn't put a goal in the net," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Video: PIT@NYM: Gsellman catches Freese looking

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Quick start: Quietly one of the Mets' best hitters in May, Walker blasted a 95-mph Glasnow fastball over the right-center-field fence for a two-run homer in the first. That plated Conforto, who walked to open the inning. Since joining the Mets from Pittsburgh in 2016, Walker has hit safely in all nine games he has played against his former team. Overall, he is batting .361 with a double, a triple, four home runs and 10 RBIs in those games.

Reed's escape: In the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, the Pirates put two men on base, but they did not score in any of them thanks to the relief work of Fernando Salas, Jerry Blevins and Reed, respectively. Reed in particular made the Mets sweat, barking at home-plate umpire Stu Scheurwater after a series of borderline pitches went against him in the eighth. But the closer popped up pinch-hitter John Jaso and induced a groundout from Adam Frazier to escape the eighth inning, en route to a six-out save.

"It was huge," Reed said of the Jaso at-bat in particular. "I was kind of disappointed in the calls, but there's nothing you can do. You can't rewind time and have him call it a strike. All I could do was try and get back in the count, and things worked out." More >

Video: PIT@NYM: Reed retires Bell to secure the save

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Pirates first baseman Josh Bell homered for the second straight night, ripping his 11th of the season to right-center field off Gsellman in the second inning. It was the third time this year that Bell has gone deep in back-to-back games (April 19-21 and May 17-18), and he now owns the second-highest homer total by a switch-hitting Pittsburgh rookie since Walker mashed 12 in 2010.

WHAT'S NEXT
Pirates: Right-hander Trevor Williams will start for the Pirates as they wrap their series. Since he gave up six earned runs in three innings at Dodger Stadium on May 8, Williams has posted a 3.32 ERA in 21 2/3 innings over four starts, and the Pirates have won three of those games.

Mets: Rookie Tyler Pill will make his second -- and likely last -- rotation turn when the Mets and Pirates wrap up their series with a 1:10 p.m. finale. Pill gave up one run in 5 1/3 innings Tuesday in his starting debut, but with Steven Matz and Seth Lugo both due back from the disabled list next weekend, he will almost certainly be squeezed out of the rotation after Sunday's start.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.