By MIKE FITZPATRICK
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) Juan Lagares drove in two runs, Vic Black gave the bullpen a boost and the New York Mets finally managed some timely hits in their first game with a new batting coach, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 Tuesday night.
Daniel Murphy doubled twice and light-hitting Ruben Tejada reached base all four times up to help the Mets win for only the fourth time in 13 games. The victory came one day after hitting coach Dave Hudgens was fired and replaced by Lamar Johnson, who had been New York’s minor league hitting coordinator.
Black (1-0) got four big outs in his first major league outing this season, and Jenrry Mejia pitched two innings for his fourth save.
With a runner on, Curtis Granderson made an outstanding catch in the right-field corner for the second out of the ninth. Mejia then walked Andrew McCutchen and retired Mets nemesis Gaby Sanchez on a game-ending grounder.
Starling Marte hit a two-run single for the Pirates, hurt by four wild pitches in losing for the second time in seven games.
With the score 2-all, Tejada drew his second walk to start the sixth. He advanced on two wild pitches by Jeanmar Gomez (0-2) and scored when Lagares flicked a single over a drawn-in infield.
Murphy followed with an RBI double to make it 4-2. Black struck out Sanchez with runners at the corners to end the seventh.
Pittsburgh had first and third again in the eighth when Mejia got pinch-hitter Pedro Alvarez to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Handed a 2-0 lead, Mets starter Jonathon Niese let it slip away.
Normally a fast worker, Niese slowed his pace considerably as he walked three batters in the sixth. Marte’s bases-loaded single tied it, but Black struck out pinch-hitter Ike Davis with the sacks full to end the inning.
It was a matchup that pitted two players against their former teams. Black was acquired from Pittsburgh last August, and the Mets traded Davis to the Pirates last month.
Black was expected to be in the Mets’ bullpen at the start of the season, but was shipped to the minors after a rough spring. The right-hander got called up as the roster addition for Sunday’s doubleheader against Arizona, then sent back down immediately after the games.
He went to meet Triple-A Las Vegas in El Paso, Texas, but quickly turned around when the Mets recalled him late Monday to replace reliever Jose Valverde, who was released. Functioning on little sleep, Black took an early flight back to New York on Tuesday and showed up at the ballpark ready to pitch.
Pirates starter Edinson Volquez walked five and threw two wild pitches in five innings, extending his struggles on the road.
Murphy doubled in the third and scored on Bobby Abreu’s two-out single. Tejada and Lagares both doubled off the left-field wall in the fourth to make it 2-0.
Lagares made a leaping catch of McCutchen’s drive at the 390-foot sign in right-center to end the first inning. McCutchen returned the favor with a spectacular, diving grab to rob Lagares of extra bases in the third.
NOTES: Fans behind the Pittsburgh dugout chanted Alvarez’s name when he walked to the plate. Alvarez did not start in his hometown against the left-hander. Josh Harrison played third base and batted leadoff. … Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said he is looking to get a day off soon for 2B Neil Walker, who has started all 51 games this season. … Mets C Travis d’Arnaud (concussion) went 0 for 1 with a walk in a rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. He was scheduled to catch seven innings, but the game was suspended after two innings because of rain. As long as he got his work in and felt OK, d’Arnaud was expected to be activated Wednesday or Thursday. … Mets RHP Bartolo Colon (3-5, 5.34 ERA) faces RHP Charlie Morton (1-6, 3.29) in the series finale Wednesday afternoon. … Rap star 50 Cent was comically off target with the ceremonial first pitch.
Updated May 27, 2014
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