WHAT IT MEANS: Forget about their bats. The Mets missed the fielding of Jose Reyes, Ike Davis and David Wright in a 9-3 loss to the Pirates on Wednesday. Although no errors were charged, the Mets failed to execute several makeable plays in a five-run seventh inning by the Pirates that included five infield singles and chased Chris Capuano.
Pittsburgh improved to 17-14 away from PNC Park, matching its entire 2010 road win total, when it went 17-64. Kevin Correia notched his major league-leading eight win, and seventh road win.
New York Mets
AAAAARGH! Capuano took a scoreless effort into the seventh, when the gem unraveled in agonizing fashion. To open the inning, Daniel Murphy muffed a grounder, then threw slightly behind Capuano, who couldn’t find the bag quickly enough, resulting in the first of four straight infield hits.
Next, inexperienced third baseman Willie Harris could not field a bunt quickly enough and Neil Walker narrowly beat the throw to first.
Next, Capuano muffed a squibber to load the bases.
Next, shortstop Ruben Tejada fielded a grounder and threw to Harris at third. But Harris straddled the bag. He unsuccessfully tried to make a tag in time, rather than place a foot on the base and get the forceout. So Walker was ruled safe at third and the Pirates pulled within 2-1.
Lyle Overbay’s sinking liner then glanced off the glove of a diving Angel Pagan in right-center for a single to even the score.
Xavier Paul’s pinch-hit line single to right drove in the go-ahead run after Pedro Beato inherited the bases loaded from Capuano. The Pirates added two more runs in the inning to grab a 5-2 lead, the final run scoring on another infield single to Tejada, by Josh Harrison.
Capuano, who pitched solidly, ended up with this ugly line: 6 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K.
Harris was starting at third base for the fifth time this season and 14th time in his career. His difficulties extended to the plate. He struck out in his first three at-bats and was 0-for-his-last-10 before singling in the ninth. Murphy, on the other hand, had his fourth straight multi-hit game.
DROUGHT: The Mets’ homerless drought ended at 10 games when Justin Turner produced a solo shot that pulled the Mets within 9-3 in the eighth off Daniel McCutchen. It matched the sixth-longest drought in franchise history.
The franchise’s longest homerless streaks all came in 1980: 17, 13 and 12 games. The Mets only had 61 homers as a team that year, second fewest in franchise history, and were led by Lee Mazzilli’s 16 long balls.
In fairness, the ballpark did contribute to the near-continuation Wednesday, until Turner delivered. Jason Bay smoked a shot to right-center, where Andrew McCutchen made a sliding catch on the track by the 415-foot marker. Bay did respond with a diving catch of his own, to retire Harrison to open the fourth.
New York Mets
LEAKY PEN: Mets relievers were charged with four runs in three innings. The once-sturdy relief corps has allowed 32 runs in its last 25 1/3 innings, for an 11.37 ERA. Beato has been charged with runs in four of his last five appearances after opening his major league career without allowing an earned run in 18 2/3 innings.
K-ROD TRACKER: Francisco Rodriguez did not appear. He has finished 20 of the Mets’ first 55 games. K-Rod is on pace for 59 games finished, four over the threshold for his contract to kick in at $17.5 million for 2012.
WHAT’S NEXT: Reyes is due to return from bereavement list for Thursday’s matinee as Mike Pelfrey (3-4, 5.00 ERA) opposes Pittsburgh left-hander Paul Maholm (2-7, 3.18). That means no more Harris at third base.