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Kingham hit hard, defense shaky in loss to Mets

Right-hander exits in 4th; bullpen unable to keep Mets off board
MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' recent surge up the standings was made possible by both offensive outbursts and high-level run prevention. Indians starter Trevor Bauer quelled the former on Wednesday afternoon in Cleveland, and the latter went missing on Thursday night at PNC Park.

Right-hander Nick Kingham gave up six runs on seven hits and four walks while recording only nine outs, the bullpen struggled late and the Pirates committed three errors as they lost, 12-6, to the Mets. Pittsburgh didn't cede any ground in the National League Wild Card race, remaining 3 1/2 games back as Atlanta and Arizona also lost. But for the first time in 19 days, the Bucs left the ballpark with a losing streak.

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PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' recent surge up the standings was made possible by both offensive outbursts and high-level run prevention. Indians starter Trevor Bauer quelled the former on Wednesday afternoon in Cleveland, and the latter went missing on Thursday night at PNC Park.

Right-hander Nick Kingham gave up six runs on seven hits and four walks while recording only nine outs, the bullpen struggled late and the Pirates committed three errors as they lost, 12-6, to the Mets. Pittsburgh didn't cede any ground in the National League Wild Card race, remaining 3 1/2 games back as Atlanta and Arizona also lost. But for the first time in 19 days, the Bucs left the ballpark with a losing streak.

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"We were just rough in too many different areas tonight to overcome what they were able to put on the board," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Video: NYM@PIT: Hurdle on Kingham's struggles in 12-6 loss

The Pirates allowed only 2.5 runs per game while winning 13 of their previous 15 contests. During that stretch, their starters posted a combined 2.48 ERA. Even when Bauer ended the Bucs' 11-game winning streak in Cleveland, starter Jameson Taillon pitched well enough to win. That wasn't the case for Kingham on Thursday night.

Kingham fell behind early and often, and the Mets hit him hard from the start. Wilmer Flores ripped a two-run homer to left in the first inning. Asdrubal Cabrera clubbed a two-strike curveball to right for an RBI double in the second. Kingham loaded the bases with one out in the third, but the Mets managed only one run on Devin Mesoraco's sacrifice fly.

Video: PIT@NYM: Frazier smacks an opposite-field RBI double

Seeing Kingham struggle for the first time since early July, the Pirates called their bullpen to ready Tyler Glasnow. But Kingham returned to start the fourth, only to quickly exit after Cabrera's two-run homer to right.

"It just really didn't click," Kingham said. "I gave up the double then the home run to Flores. It kind of all just went downhill from there. I tried to pull it back, and nothing really worked."

Video: NYM@PIT: Freese drives an opposite-field 2-run homer

The Pirates rallied twice to tie the game. David Freese launched a two-run homer to right-center in the first inning, and Josh Harrison evened the score in the third with a two-run blast to left.

Glasnow replaced Kingham in the fourth, and the Mets took advantage of Pittsburgh's sloppy defense behind him. Michael Conforto reached on an error by Harrison and wound up scoring when Freese made a wild throw to first base.

Video: NYM@PIT: Nimmo scores on fielder's choice, error

Reliever Richard Rodriguez allowed three runs in the seventh. Rosario hit a single to score Jeff McNeil. After a wild pitch, Mesoraco scored on Cabrera's groundout. Rosario then came home on Rodriguez's second wild pitch of the inning. The Pirates got one run back in the seventh on Jordan Luplow's RBI triple to right, but right-hander Michael Feliz surrendered a run in each of his two innings.

Meanwhile, Mets left-hander Steven Matz silenced Pittsburgh's lineup after escaping the third, retiring the final 10 hitters he faced. The Mets left-hander tied a career-high with nine strikeouts and completed six innings on 106 pitches despite throwing 72 pitches in the first three innings.

"The scouting report was just what we had thought it would be," Hurdle said. "He threw more strikes and he had command of all his pitches."

Video: NYM@PIT: Luplow laces an RBI triple off the wall

SOUND SMART
Luplow has hit leadoff each of the last two games, his first starts atop the order for the Pirates this season. In doing so, Luplow became Pittsburgh's 11th different leadoff hitter this year. Only four hitters on the current active roster haven't hit in the leadoff spot this season: Gregory Polanco, Freese, Elias Diaz and Colin Moran.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Even with the game out of reach, Luplow made a pair of highlight-reel catches in left field. In the eighth inning, Luplow chased down Mesoraco's fly ball at the warning track and made an over-the-shoulder catch. In the ninth, he covered a lot of ground to make a sliding grab on Conforto's pop-up in foul territory.

Video: NYM@PIT: Luplow makes a great over-the-shoulder grab

"That's one of my things. I love playing defense," Luplow said. "I love having the pitcher's back. I love them knowing that if it's hit out there, I've got a good chance to catch it."

Video: NYM@PIT: Luplow charges and slides to make the catch

HE SAID IT
"Just not swing at balls. I got behind early on, so that put me in a hole. I was behind in the count, had to really figure out what to throw. … I think all around, they just did exactly what they were supposed to at the plate." -- Kingham, on how the Mets' left-handed hitters attacked him so effectively

UP NEXT
Right-hander Ivan Nova will start for the Pirates on Friday as they return to PNC Park to face the Mets at 7:05 p.m. ET. Nova, who's 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA over his last three starts, worked into the seventh on Sunday in Cincinnati. Lefty Jason Vargas will start for the Mets.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Nick Kingham, Jordan Luplow