No fastball. Average changeup. Nothing special in his pitching arsenal against his former team.
"I battled with my cutter and slider," Benson said after pitching seven gritty innings in the New York Mets' 6-2 victory Tuesday night. "I didn't have great stuff. I tried to keep them off balance with my slider and cutter and sprinkle in a fastball. It did the trick."
Benson limited the Pirates to seven hits and two runs and helped himself with a two-run single.
His ex-manager, Lloyd McClendon, has been critical of him before and agreed that the lanky right-hander was nothing special in this game.
"He threw the ball OK," McClendon said. "We had him on the ropes a couple of times but he threw the ball well when he had to. I think his stuff was just OK, though. It wasn't electric. I have seen him when he's been more electric than that."
Benson had a shaky start, allowing a pair of second-inning runs. But his bases-loaded single keyed a four-run rally in the bottom half, and he protected the lead from there.
Roberto Hernandez pitched a scoreless eighth, and Braden Looper worked the ninth.
Cliff Floyd hit his 27th homer for the Mets, who hung right fielder Mike Cameron's jersey in their dugout during the game. Cameron is recovering from facial surgery after a head-to-head collision with teammate Carlos Beltran in San Diego last week.
Benson (9-4) gave up five hits in the first three innings before settling down. He got his clutch hit off Mark Redman (5-13), who lost for the ninth time in 10 decisions.
"The hit definitely helped my cause," Benson said. "It was nice to get the go-ahead run home in that situation."
The Mets returned home after going 2-4 on an emotional road trip. Cameron and Beltran were injured last Thursday, then Pedro Martinez took a no-hitter into the eighth inning Sunday only to lose to the Dodgers.
"We are a resilient team," Benson said. "You've got to work through those things and come out ahead."
Acquired from Pittsburgh in a trade last July, Benson earned his second consecutive win. He carried a one-hit shutout into the ninth against the Padres last week.
Pittsburgh jumped in front in the second inning when Rob Mackowiak opened with a triple beyond the reach of Gerald Williams in center field and came home on a sacrifice fly by Jose Castillo. With two outs, Jack Wilson walked, moved to third on a single by Redman and scored on Chris Duffy's second hit.
The Mets came right back against Redman in the bottom half.
Floyd beat out an infield single and Mike Piazza walked. Chris Woodward walked with one out, loading the bases. Williams singled for one run, and Benson drove in two more with a single to left. Jose Reyes' sacrifice fly made it 4-2.
Daryle Ward and Mackowiak opened the sixth with singles, but Castillo hit into a double play and Humberto Cota bounced out. It was the second time a double play thwarted a Pittsburgh rally. The same thing happened in the first inning, when Duffy opened with an infield single and Freddy Sanchez reached on an error by third baseman David Wright. Benson struck out Jason Bay and got Ward to hit into an inning-ending double play.
In the seventh, Benson walked Wilson leading off. Redman sacrificed Wilson to second, but Benson struck out Duffy and Sanchez, ending the inning and Benson's night.
Redman retired 13 consecutive batters before Woodward singled leading off the seventh. Williams sacrificed and Kaz Matsui batted for Benson and flied out, moving Woodward to third. Reyes walked and stole his 42nd base of the year but Miguel Cairo popped up, stranding the runners.
Floyd hit a two-run shot in the eighth off John Grabow.
Ex-Met Todd Zeile, now in the motion picture business, was a clubhouse visitor. ... The Mets celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' sold-out concert at Shea Stadium with a pregame concert and Diamondvision messages from living Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. ... The Pirates had won four straight and six of their last eight at Shea Stadium.