NL: Mets squander eighth-inning lead
PITTSBURGH ó Andy LaRoche and the Pittsburgh Pirates took advantage of a rare off night for the New York Mets’ refurbished bullpen.
LaRoche had three RBIs and Pittsburgh scored five runs in the eighth inning of an 8-5 win Monday.
Adam LaRoche and Jack Wilson had three hits apiece for the Pirates, who came back from a 5-0 deficit to win for only the second time in six games.
“Late in the game we came up with some big hits with runners on base,” Adam LaRoche said. “That’s what we’ve been missing. A lot of these games, we’ve been getting some opportunities and not taking advantage of them, and we did tonight.”
Wilson Valdez had two hits and a career-high three RBIs for the Mets, who fell to 22-2 when leading after seven innings. Jeremy Reed added two hits and scored two runs.
The bottom of the eighth had to stir up bad memories of last season for Mets fans, but bullpen implosions have been rare this season. New York entered the game leading the majors with a 2.95 team ERA for its relievers.
“You know what, this wasn’t our game plan going in,” Andy LaRoche said, “because they’ve pretty much had a sturdy bullpen all year.”
Livan Hernandez pitched 52/3 innings, East Rowan graduate Bobby Parnell worked out of a sixth-inning jam and Pedro Feliciano worked a perfect seventh to help the Mets carry a 5-3 lead into the eighth.
“That’s how we’re designed, map it out the way we did tonight, to try to get to that point,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “And when you get there and it happens like that, it’s a little tough to overcome.”
The Mets led 5-3 when Parnell entered with two on and two out in the sixth. An infield single by Wilson loaded the bases, but Parnell struck out Ramon Vasquez on a 3-2 pitch to end the threat.
Adam LaRoche led off the eighth with a double off Feliciano. After Eric Hinske grounded out, Manuel replaced Feliciano with J.J. Putz (1-4).
The Pirates responded with four consecutive singles up the middle. Andy LaRoche’s infield single to second drove in brother Adam. After Jason Jaramillo’s hit, Wilson tied with a single to center and pinch-hitter Delwyn Young put Pittsburgh in front 6-5.
“A couple hoppers up the middle,” Putz said. “They hit groundballs; they just hit them to the right spot.
“There’s not much you can say about that. There’s a little bit of bad luck involved.”
Valdez’s error at short led to another run, and Nate McLouth added a sacrifice fly to make it 8-5.
Putz failed to record an out and was charged with four runs (three earned) and four hits. He gave up two runs and two hits while recording just one out in the eighth inning of New York’s 3-2 victory over the Florida Marlins on Sunday, when Parnell escaped a jam to help the Mets maintain a lead.
Putz was acquired from Seattle in the offseason to help shore up New York’s leaky bullpen, but he’s 1-4 with a 4.76 ERA in 28 games this year.