The Pirates collected their third straight win with a 5-3, 14-inning victory over the Mets Saturday night.
Gregory Polanco led off the game with a first-pitch single, but got picked off. Two batters later, though, Andrew McCutchen walked (thanks to a gift from home plate umpire Bob Davidson), and Aramis Ramirez drove him in with a home run to left. Then, in the third inning, Polanco again hit the first pitch he saw, this time for a homer off the foul pole in right. (Polanco ended up going 3-for-6 in the game, continuing his hot hitting.)
Polanco's homer put the Pirates up 3-0. For a while, the Mets couldn't do much against Charlie Morton, who struck out eight batters in his first six innings, mostly thanks to a terrific curveball and changeup. A bad seventh inning, though, undid all his good work. Juan Uribe led off with a solo homer. Two batters later, Travis d'Arnaud reached on an error by Ramirez, then came home on a two-run shot by rookie outfielder Michael Conforto. That was it for Morton, who left with the game tied despite his dominating performance in the first hour and a half or so.
Joakim Soria finished off the seventh and Tony Watson took the eighth. In the ninth, Sean Rodriguez nearly started a rally with a double, but ended by getting thrown out at third by Yoenis Cespedes. Arquimedes Caminero took the ninth and Jared Hughes the 10th, and then Joe Blanton took over.
Who would have thought Joe Blanton would be so terrific as a long reliever? Blanton pitched three innings, striking out six. That gave a quiet Bucs offense plenty of time to score, and in the 14th, it finally did. Francisco Cervelli led off with a double, then moved up as Starling Marte (who had entered the game in the sixth) reached on a fielder's choice. After Pedro Florimon replaced Cervelli at third, Chris Stewart lined a single for a run. Then Rodriguez dumped a pop-up into shallow left center for another run-scoring single, putting the Bucs up by two. Mark Melancon then pitched a scoreless inning for the save.
As usual, the Cardinals and Cubs both won, so the Pirates' standing in the division didn't change -- they're still down six on St. Louis and up a game and a half on Chicago. The Bucs have won seven of their last 10, but the Cardinals have won eight of their last 10, and the Cubs have won nine in a row.