NEW YORK -- How's that for execution?
A day after Terry Collins called out his team for sloppy play and an inability to finish games, the New York Mets came back from seven runs down to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-8, tying for the second-biggest comeback in franchise history.
"You need wins like this to show you you can do it," Collins said Thursday. "I think it means a lot to us, and hopefully this is something we feed off of."
With his team down 7-0, Carlos Beltran gave the Mets reason to believe with a three-run homer in the bottom of the third, a hit Collins called "the biggest of the game."
The Mets completed the comeback with a four-run sixth -- highlighted by Ruben Tejada's bases-loaded single -- and a two-run eighth in which Collins seemed to push all the right buttons. The Mets plated two runs in the eighth on one hit, a balk, a wild pitch and three walks, using two pinch hitters and a pinch runner.
"That's exactly what Terry talked to us about," Josh Thole said. "Execution."
After Wednesday night's 9-3 loss, Collins ripped his team for its sloppy play. The Mets gave up five infield hits in Pittsburgh's five-run seventh. Collins also was upset because in recent games the Mets seemed to check out mentally after giving up a lead.
"I'm running out of ideas here," the manager told reporters Wednesday night, shortly after he lambasted his team in the locker room. "Do we play hard? Absolutely. That's not the issue. The issue is not effort. That's not it. It's about execution."
An exasperated Collins later added: "I don't have the answers. I'm searching. I'm wringing the rag dry of coming in here and having to look at you [media] guys, and having you look at me like I'm a stinking fool. And I told these guys: 'We're good enough. We've got to go play the game right.' We just can't continue to make foolish mistakes."
In the early innings Thursday, it certainly looked as if the message didn't sink in.
Pittsburgh's Xavier Paul led off the game with an infield single, setting up the Pirates' three-run first. Pittsburgh scored three more in the second off Mike Pelfrey, thanks in part to a two-run homer by Neil Walker.
But Beltran's blast in the third seemed to wake up the Mets.
"That's exactly what we needed," Daniel Murphy said.
The Amazin's comeback matched the largest come-from-behind victory in the majors this season. (Seattle rallied from down 7-0 on April 11 against Toronto to win 8-7.) It tied the second-biggest mark in team history, also reached in 2000, and was one shy of the team record, an eight-run comeback against the Astros in 1972. It was exactly what the Mets needed a night after getting chewed out by their manager.
"Whatever he did yesterday was good because we came back with a big win," said shortstop Jose Reyes, who was away from the team on bereavement leave and missed Collins' tantrum. "Hopefully, [the next time] we don't play too good, he can do the same."
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.