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PITTSBURGH — Edwin Diaz drilled the first batter he faced with the first pitch he threw Saturday night — and soon the Mets’ worst nightmare was unfolding.
The two-run lead Diaz had been handed wasn’t safe, just as a sizable advantage an inning earlier had become tenuous in the hands of Seth Lugo.
This one ended with Dominic Smith diving into the left-field stands desperately trying to catch a shot off the bat of Jacob Stallings, but to no avail. Stallings’ walk-off grand slam sent the Mets to a stunning 9-7 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park.
The Mets, who led 6-0 in the eighth inning largely on the strength of a pair of two-run home runs by J.D. Davis, lost their third straight and fell to 2-4 against the last-place Pirates.
Wilmer Difo’s three-run homer off Lugo was the big blow in a five-run eighth inning for the Pirates, but Brandon Nimmo’s solo homer in the ninth still gave Diaz a two-run cushion as he took the mound in the bottom of the inning. Diaz was pitching for the first time since blowing a save against the Pirates last Sunday at Citi Field.
Ke’Bryan Hayes was hit by a pitch to begin the winning rally and Bryan Reynolds walked. After getting an out, Diaz surrendered a single to John Nogowski that loaded the bases. Gregory Polanco struck out, putting Diaz within one out of the save before Stallings ended it.
On a day when the Mets learned Francisco Lindor has a right oblique strain and won’t play again anytime soon and they scratched Jacob deGrom from his next start because of forearm tightness, Davis brought some sense of relief to the lineup with two homers.
Davis belted a two-run homer in the fourth and another in the sixth, giving rookie Tylor Megill run support in his most impressive performance since joining the Mets. The right-hander fired six shutout innings, in which he allowed six hits and struck out two, dropping his ERA to 2.63.
Travis Blankenhorn, recalled from Triple-A Syracuse before the game to take Lindor’s roster spot, drove in a run with a pinch-hit double in the seventh. Jeff McNeil contributed an RBI single in the inning.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is the most prominent of the names linked to the Mets before the July 30 trade deadline, but the team has other needs that can be prioritized if Davis continues to hit.
Davis, who was activated from the IL on Friday, but only pinch hit that night as Jonathan Villar started at third base, entered his start Saturday with a .381/.469/.595 slash line.
His initial blast of the night came after three futile innings, in which base running and double plays were an issue. In the first, Nimmo was late retreating to first base on McNeil’s fly to center and was doubled up to end the inning. Smith grounded into a double play in the second and Pete Alonso hit into one in the third.
McNeil walked to open the fourth and Davis crushed Wil Crowe’s next pitch over the center field fence for the Mets’ first homer in 20 innings. The Mets had blasted two in the first inning in the final game before the All-Star break, but then went silent for the remainder of that game and scored their only run Friday on a ground out.
Megill escaped trouble in the third by retiring Reynolds after the Pirates had created two-out noise. Adam Frazier reached on Alonso’s fielding error and Hayes singled to right. Megill, after a visit to the mound from pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, got Reynolds to hit a changeup for a weak grounder to third that killed the threat. In the fourth, Megill allowed singles to Nogowski and Stallings, but retired Kevin Newman to keep the Pirates scoreless.
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