WHAT IT MEANS: The Mets split a six-game road trip to Toronto and Pittsburgh with a 3-1 rubber-game victory against the Pirates on Wednesday afternoon along the shores of the Allegheny River.
Frank Francisco produced a 1-2-3 inning for a save for the second straight day.
New York Mets
HOW NICE: Coming off an outing in Toronto to open the road trip in which he matched a career high by allowing eight runs, Jon Niese took a scoreless effort into the sixth inning. He then allowed a leadoff double by Josh Harrison and one-out RBI single by Andrew McCutchen that pulled the Pirates within 3-1. Niese held the line there that frame, though, coaxing a 6-4-3 double play from Neil Walker.
Niese departed with two out and two runners aboard in the eighth after walking Gorkys Hernandez. Bobby Parnell entered to face McCutchen, and catcher Rob Johnson tried to catch Hernandez straying too far off first base. Johnson’s snap pickoff attempt was missed by first baseman Ike Davis, and an E-3 was charged as both runners advanced.
Parnell made it immaterial by striking out McCutchen on a 98 mph fastball to strand the two runners in scoring position and preserve a two-run lead.
Niese’s final line: 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. It was his longest outing since also going 7 2/3 innings on Aug. 11, 2011 against the San Diego Padres.
PIRATE CASTAWAY: The Pirates declined a $3 million option on Ronny Cedeno last offseason and instead signed Clint Barmes to serve as their shortstop. Cedeno then settled for a $1.1 million contract and backup role with the Mets. He got a little payback against his former club this week. Cedeno went 5-for-10 during the three-game series while manning shortstop in place of soon-to-be-returning Ruben Tejada. Tejada (quadriceps) appeared in his first extended spring training game Tuesday.
New York Mets
MR. .400: David Wright briefly dipped under .400 after being retired in his first two at-bats Wednesday. Wright then delivered an RBI double against Charlie Morton in the fifth inning that staked the Mets to a 3-0 lead. But after striking out in his fourth AB to finish 1-for-4, Wright’s average ended the trip at .399.
It’s the first time Wright completed a day under .400 since May 14.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis had preceded Wright’s fifth-inning at-bat with a sacrifice fly. The Mets had opened the scoring in the first inning on Lucas Duda’s RBI single.
IT’S A HIT: Davis, who entered the day mired in a 2-for-33 rut, singled in his first at-bat. He finished 1-for-4, striking out on a pitch in the dirt and well out of the strike zone in his final plate appearance.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Mets return to Citi Field for an 11-game homestand during which they face San Diego, Philadelphia and Carlos Beltran’s St. Louis Cardinals. Jeremy Hefner (0-1, 2.25 ERA), after two quality relief appearances, makes his first major league start in Thursday’s series opener against the Padres, opposite left-hander Eric Stults (0-0, 2.70). Hefner takes the slot formerly held by Miguel Batista, who landed on the DL on Sunday with a lower back or oblique strain.