THE New York Mets made it seven in a row on Sunday night as they swept the Pittsburgh Pirates away to move clear at the top of the NL East.
Livan Hernandez fell behind early, but the Mets plated three in the 4th inning and broke the game open with four in the 8th inning to give them their first lead in the standings since Opening Day.
Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo and Omir Santos each plated two runners as the Mets gave Hernandez enough run support to overcome a shaky start.
The Pirates, in fact, jumped ahead early, scoring a run in the 1st and 3rd innings before the Mets got on the board.
Nyjer Morgan singled and stole second base and Delmon Young singled to centre to put men on the corners. Nate McLouth hit a sacrifice fly to Ryan Church in right field to easily score Morgan who trotted home at a canter.
The Pirates doubled their lead in the 3rd inning when Diaz found the gap in the right side of the infield when he slapped a single the other way.
McLouth had led off the onning with a double to left field and Eric Hinske drew a one-walk walk -one of four free passes from Hernandez who had only given up eight walks in his previous five starts.
After Andy LaRoche grounded back out to Hernandez, Diaz shot a single to Church to score McLouth. Hinske was held up surprisingly at third base and Brian Bixler struck out to end the inning.
The Mets had very little going on against Ian Snell until the 4th inning. Carlos Delgado launched a one-out double off the top of the centrefield wall and David Wright drove him home with a grounder that crept under the glove of Bixler.
Wright then stole second and Daniel Murphy walked, and both runners advanced 90ft on a wild pitch that got away from Diaz after hopping off of the plate.
Omir Santos gave the Mets the lead by turning on a 3-2 fastball to send a two-run single to right field, but he was thrown out trying to stretch the single into a double.
Pedro Feliciano pitched a scoreless 7th inning for the Mets and the bats added a protection run in the bottom of the frame.
Gary Sheffield, pinch-hitting for Feliciano reached on a fielding error by Bixler and Reyes singled to right. Castillo then singled to centre to give the Mets a 4-2 lead and, after a double steal, Beltran was intentionally walked.
But Delgado popped out and Wright struck out swinging to leave the bases loaded.
JJ Putz got himself into – and out of – another jam in the 8th inning, giving up one-out singles to Diaz and Vazquez. But he got Moss to line out to left and Morgan to strike out to turn the 4-2 lead over to Rodriguez.
The Mets put the game beyond doubt in the 8th inning with a four spot off of reliever Jason Grabow.
Santos picked up his second hit of the evening, Church got his first and Tatis was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Reyes, who entered the game batting 5/9 with three runs and three RBI this series, walked in a run and Castillo hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Church. Hot-hitting Beltran doubled in two more runs to make it 8-2.
The Pirates did reduce the arrears in the 9th inning when McLouth hit a two-run home run off of Shaun Green, but Green retired the next three batters he faced to give the Mets their seventh consecutive win.
THREE teams walked off with a win, Red Sox starter Josh Beckett looked unhittable and the Phillies remain on course to lose 162 games.
Toronto’s Rod Barajas beat Detroit in the 9th inning with a sac fly, Twins 2B Alexi Casilla did it with a two-run single against the Mariners and the Astros’ Jeff Keppinger needed extra innings and a broken bat to hand heartbreak to the Cubbies.
Josh Beckett was dominant as he struck out 10 Rays and surrendered just two hits in a 5-3 win in the opening game at Fenway and the Braves blanked the Phillies behind Jair Jurrens, with Chipper Jones and Kelly Johnson going big fly.
In Chicago, Jim Thome hit a three-run bomb in the bottom of the 8th off of KC’s Kyle Farnsworth to secure a 4-2 win after Gil meche had pitched seven innings of one-run ball, while Tim Lincecum got knocked out after just three innings in the Giant’s 10-6 against Milwaukee.
The Marlins ran out to a 8-0 lead in the first three innings against the awful Nationals and never looked back as they cruised to a 8-3 win while Ubaldo Jimenez pitched seven frames of shutout ball for Colorado to handcuff the Diamondbacks in the desert.
Colby Rasmus went 2/4 in his debut for the Cardinals and Albert Pujols hit his first home run of the year in a 9-3 home win against Pittburgh and Heath Bell recorded his first save in San Diego in a 4-2 victory against the Dodgers
In the evening’s lat game, Oakland plated six runs on 16 hits to dispatch of the Angels.