PITTSBURGH — Tyler Naquin and Eduardo Escobar hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning, and the New York Mets beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1 Wednesday in the first game of a split doubleheader.
The Mets fell a half-game back from Atlanta for first place in the NL East by relying on the combination of power and pitching that has kept them atop the division since early April.
Chris Bassitt (13-7) struck out 10 in seven innings, helping New York avoid its first four-game losing streak of the season. Bassitt’s 13 wins are the best of his career, surpassing the 12 games he won while pitching for Oakland in 2021.
And while the Braves have been steadily trimming New York’s lead in the East, which reached 10 1/2 games at one point, Bassitt insisted the Mets aren’t scared by the reigning World Series champions’ momentum.
“I’m sure the world was going crazy, but, I mean, we’re fine,” Bassitt said.
New York ace Jacob deGrom (4-1) is scheduled to start Game 2 of the doubleheader against Pittsburgh’s Johan Oviedo (2-1).
Naquin hit a three-run home run into the bullpen past the center field fence for his 11th home run of the season. Escobar followed with a high ball to the seats over the 21-foot-tall Clemente Wall in right field that put the Mets into a 5-0 lead.
“I think it’s a reminder of what he’s capable of,” New York manager Buck Showalter said of Escobar, who has three home runs in his last five games and is a career .410 hitter (34 for 83) against Pittsburgh.
Naquin, Escobar, Pete Alonso and Brandon Nimmo each had two hits for New York, which scored more runs in the first four innings than it did during a three-game stretch against Washington and Pittsburgh.
Nimmo opened the game against starter Duane Underwood Jr. (1-6) with an infield single. Alonso followed with a double and Nimmo scored on Jeff McNeil’s sacrifice fly.
The Mets opened it up in the fourth when Daniel Vogelbach, acquired in a trade from the Pirates in July, singled, Bryse Wilson hit Mark Cahna with a pitch and Naquin followed up with his fourth homer since being acquired in a trade with Cincinnati. in July. 28
Greg Allen had an RBI double for Pittsburgh. Rookie shortstop Oneil Cruz and first baseman Michael Chavis each had two hits.
The Pirates fell to 5-19 in their last 24 games and haven’t won back-to-back contests in over a month.
Mets: Retained RF Starling Marte out of the lineup a day after taking a 96 mph fastball from Pittsburgh’s Mitch Keller to the middle finger of his right (pitching) hand. Showalter said Mars came back for more tests on Wednesday after some of the results from Tuesday night’s imaging were inconclusive. … he placed RHP Max Scherzer on the 15-day disabled list with left-side irritation and called up left-handed reliever Alex Claudio from Triple-A Syracuse.
The Pirates recalled infielder Hoy Park from Triple-A Indianapolis, claimed 1B/C Zack Collins on waivers from Toronto and RHP Junior Fernandez on waivers from St. Louis. To make room on the 40-man roster for Collins and Fernandez, the Pirates designated left-handed reliever Cam Vieaux and infielder Josh VanMeter for assignment. VanMeter hit .187 with three home runs and 14 RBI in 67 games for Pittsburgh.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
DeGrom will face the Pirates for the first time since 2018 in Game 2. DeGrom is 1-2 with a 2.43 ERA in four career starts against Pittsburgh.