PITTSBURGH (AP) – Michael Conforto hit a double homer in the ninth inning to complete a huge comeback, and the New York Mets overcame an embarrassing slip by all-star pitcher Taijuan Walker to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-6 on Sunday to beat.
After a 6-0 first inning, the Mets rallied to save a rough weekend at PNC Park. NL East leaders lost stars Jacob deGrom and Francisco Lindor to injuries and dropped the game on Saturday night when closer Edwin Diaz gave up a two-out Grand Slam in game nine that crowned Pittsburgh’s comeback in six races.
Conforto met closer Richard Rodriguez (4-2), who missed his third save on 16 occasions. Dominic Smith led the ninth with a single and Conforto followed with his fourth homer.
The Mets lost four of seven to Pittsburgh in two series around the All-Star break.
Walker, who appeared in the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, injured himself in the first inning with a major misconduct that led to an argument and the expulsion of Mets manager Luis Rojas.
Bryan Reynolds hit an RBI single and John Nogowski doubled up for a quick 3-0 lead, and two walks invited the bases with one out.
Kevin Newman hit a dribbler on the third baseline and the ball started in foul territory but then spun back towards the line.
Walker rushed in and struck at the ball, trying to make contact while it was still in the rotten ground. But TV reruns showed the ball touched the chalk when Walker hit it, and record referee Jeremy Riggs correctly called it a fair ball.
Walker turned to defy the call when the ball rolled toward the pirates’ dugout and no Mets responded to retrieve it. The three Pittsburgh runners started and kept running, and they all came to score.
Walker said he tried to hit the ball into the dugout.
“Of course I thought it was a foul,” said Walker. “It was so close. … I thought I turned it over in the dugout. I didn’t even know it was still in the game. It was just one of those pieces that just happened. Crazy game. “
Walker was charged with a bug in the game, while Newman was credited with a single and an RBI.
Rojas immediately ran out to contradict the call and was thrown out. He said he wanted the umpires to call a conference to make sure the correct call was made even though the play could not be verified.
“I didn’t wake up this morning to get kicked out at the bottom in the first inning,” he said.
Walker said Rojas’ passionate defense helped the team get back into the game after a lackluster start.
“Of course he was on fire and I think that encouraged the whole team to have our backs,” said Walker.
After running pitcher JT Brubaker, Walker was pulled out of the game. He allowed six runs on four hits and four walks while recording only one out.
The Mets began rallying with Smith’s RBI single on the third. In the fourth, pinch hitter Travis Blankenhorn hit his first major league homer, a three-run shot on the riverwalk past right midfield to make the 6-4.
Jeff McNeil scored the throwing error of right fielder Gregory Polanco in the sixth throw to get the Mets on a run.
Jeurys Familia (5-1) pitched two innings. Trevor May was working on a leadoff walk on the ninth for his second parade.
CONFORTO COMING AROUND?
Conforto’s homerun has given him three extra base hits in three games since the All-Star break. He only had two in 19 games after returning from an Achilles tendon injury in late June, while his strike rate dropped to .277. Conforto beat .515 with nine home runs and 12 doubles in 2020.
“He’s one of the guys we’re waiting to catch fire because he can help our offensive,” said Rojas.
The pirates reinstated right-handed relief pitcher Duane Underwood Jr. from the casualty list and elected right-handed relief pitcher Nick Mears to Triple-A Indianapolis. Underwood has been walking on the right with complaints since July 8th. Mears has not appeared in the majors this season.
The Mets placed deGrom on the 10-day injury list with tightness in the right forearm. The ace was supposed to start on Sunday but got scratched. An MRI did not reveal any structural damage.
Mets: Jerad Eickhoff (0-1, 4.97 ERA) starts a three-game series in Cincinnati on Monday. Eickhoff has played three games and made a start this season. On July 11, he last laid 2 2/3 innings of relief.
Pirates: Chase De Jong (1-3, 5:59) begins Monday when the Pirates embark on a six-game, three-game road trip against Arizona.