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Mets lead in NL East under threat after nasty loss to Pirates

PITTSBURGH — This schedule against last-place teams isn’t working for the Mets, so maybe they have to face the Old Timers who showed up at Citi Field recently.

Other than a Brandon Nimmo swing in the seventh inning Tuesday night, the Mets were an ugly sight to behold offensively, continuing their slump in their streak against the Nationals over the weekend. It led to a third consecutive defeat, 8-2 against the Pirates at PNC Park.

The Mets saw their NL East lead over Atlanta reduced to half a game as the Braves prepared to play in Oakland later that night. The Braves were trying to reach first place for the first time this season.

Already trailing 4-2 in the eighth, the Mets dug deeper into the hole when the Pirates beat Bryce Montes de Oca, in his second major league appearance, and Tommy Hunter for four runs. Hunter came in with two outs in the inning and gave up a two-run outburst to Oneil Cruz that hit the Allegheny River.

Eduardo Escobar heads for the dugout after striking out in the fifth inning of the Mets 8-2 loss to the Pirates.
Getty Images

The Mets’ offensive sluggishness included Pete Alonso on two double plays and an 0-for-5 team performance with runners in scoring position.

The latest injury concern is Starling Marte, who left the game one inning after being pierced in the right hand by a Mitch Keller fastball. Marte will undergo hand imaging and be assessed in more detail on Wednesday.

Mets lead in NL East under threat after nasty loss to Pirates
Oneil Cruz dives into the house safely for a run as Taijuna Walker looks on during the Mets’ loss.
Getty Images

After Keller shut out the Mets for six innings, Nimmo broke a two-run homer in the seventh against Robert Stephenson that cut the Pirates’ lead to 4-2. James McCann delivered a two-out single — a second hit of the game for the offensively challenged catcher — before Nimmo went wide for the No. 13 homer this season.

Taijuan Walker had a second consecutive below-average start, allowing four earned runs on six hits and two walks in five innings. This follows a performance against the Dodgers last week in which he gave up three earned runs in 5 ¹/₃ innings without a decision (the Mets lost).

Mets lead in NL East under threat after nasty loss to Pirates
Buck Showalter

In his five starts in August, Walker threw a 6.98 ERA, which included an outing against the Braves that ended after just one inning and eight runs allowed.

Walker hooked a breaking ball in the third inning and watched Rodolfo Castro smash it from the right-field foul post for a two-run homer that sent the Mets down a 3-0 hole. The outburst was Castro’s fourth in 11 at bats against the Mets.

In the fifth, Cruz hit a one-out double and scored on Bryan Reynolds’ next single. The Pirates had four hard-hit balls in the inning, including Ben Gamel’s line strike that Alonso caught for the third out.

Walker also allowed a run in the second inning on Michael Chavis’ sacrifice fly after back-to-back singles from Kevin Newman and Jack Suwinski.

New York Post

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