The Pirates out homered the Mets and scored four in the ninth inning - but that couldn’t overcome the six that New York piled on starter Chris Archer in their first inning, as the Pirates fell to the Mets 8-7 on Sunday afternoon at CitiField.
After throwing 48 pitches in an interminable first inning, Archer managed to hold the Mets scoreless over the next three innings before he departed once he ran his pitch count over 100. His season ERA now stands at 5.58 after nineteen starts, with a National League worst 25 home runs allowed.
Archer’s third pitch of the first hit Jeff McNeil on the foot, driving him from the game, but Michael Conforto quickly retaliated, lifting his 20th homer the other way, into the seats in left. At that point, it was the mets seventh home run in their first eleven hits of the series. Archer would fix that, as after walking both Pete Alonso and Wilson Ramos, Todd Frazier, J.D. Davis and Amed Rosario all singled to drive in runs.
36 year old left-hander Jason Vargas then befuddled the Pirates’ hitters with his 83 mph fastball mixed in with frequent off-speed pitches that rated in the 70’s. The Pirates’ frustration was best illustrated by third baseman Jung-ho Kang, who went down swinging four times out of four on pitches that failed to break the 80 mph threshold.
The Pirates did chip away, scoring single run in the third, fourth and fifth, closing the gap to 6-3, but the Mets added insurance in the sixth, scoring a pair of unearned runs off Francisco Liriano, keyed by center fielder Starling Marte’s drop of Conforto’s fly ball.
The Pirates showed signs of life in the ninth when pinch-hitter Colin Moran walked and an out later Bryan Reynolds hit his eighth homer of the year to center field, making the score 8-5. Starling Marte then beat out an infield single and came around when Jose Osuna greeted the closer Edwin Diaz with a blast to left field, his sixth homer, but a popout and groundout later the game was over.
Losers of eight in a row, the Pirates have fallen three games behind the fourth place Cincinnati Reds, the next stop on their road trip, where a series loss could cement the Pirates hold on last in the division as the trade deadline looms just two days away.
At 7:10 p.m. Eastern in Cincinnati on Monday, the Pirates will start Jordan Lyles (5-7, 5.36), who’s allowed sven or more runs in three of his last four starts, against the Reds’ Sonny Gray (5-6, 3.29), who’s been on a roll, with a 1.62 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings over his last five starts.