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Mets avert sweep, end two-game skid

Mets avert sweep, enter break at .500

PITTSBURGH -- On Sunday afternoon, Pedro Martinez did exactly what highly paid aces are supposed to do: He gave the New York Mets a strong outing to avoid a sweep and send the team into the All-Star break on a positive note.

Martinez threw seven innings of one-run, five-hit ball, and Jose Reyes chipped in with four hits to lead New York to a 6-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates before 26,551 at PNC Park.

"It was a typical Pedro game. I keep saying that, but it's the truth," said Mets manager Willie Randolph. "He pitches and keeps you in the ballgame. If they score off him, he gets strong and bears down. Today was almost a carbon copy of what we've seen from him this season."

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Martinez struck out nine to improve to 10-3 heading into the All-Star break. The Mets salvaged the final game of the series in Pittsburgh to end the first half of the season at .500 (44-44).

"I felt strong going out, and it was very nice for me and for the team," said Martinez, who added he felt as healthy as he has all season. "It was important to pick up the team and start playing the way we are capable of playing, kind of forget about [the] first two games [of this series] and start over on Thursday when we get back."

Reyes went 4-for-5 for his second four-hit game of the season and third of his career. He also had two runs scored, an RBI and a stolen base. Mike Cameron had two hits and two RBIs, and Miguel Cairo delivered two hits, a run and an RBI for the Mets.

New York opened the game with three consecutive hits, although Cameron was thrown out at second trying to extend his single into a double. Carlos Beltran hit a two-run homer to right off Bucs starter Kip Wells to score Reyes and give the Mets an early 2-0 lead.

"It was very important to go out there in the first inning and get two runs," Beltran said. "Pedro pitched a great ballgame, and we were able to score for him. After that, he shut them down."

It's fair to say Beltran, who, like Martinez, signed with the Mets in the offseason, enjoys playing when Martinez pitches. The outfielder is hitting just .250 (63-for-252) in games Martinez has not started. However, he is batting .328 (21-for-64) in games started by the Mets' ace. Nine out of his 10 home runs have been hit when Martinez was pitching.

"I don't have any explanation for that," Beltran said. "I wish I could have one. I think it's just the grace of God."

"It's kind of eerie, kind of weird how that's been happening most of the year," Randolph said. "But I'm not going to question it. I'm going to just hope it keeps happening."

The Mets scored three runs in the fifth to take control of the game. Cairo reached on a soft single to left. When Martinez attempted to sacrifice him to second, Wells fielded the bunt and threw to second. Cairo stole third when Rob Mackowiak did not cover the bag. Reyes then singled off the gloves of Wells and shortstop Jack Wilson. Cameron hit the first hard ball of the inning when he doubled home Martinez and Reyes to make it 5-0.

Wells (6-9) allowed five runs on nine hits in his five innings of work.

"The margin for error is pretty slim when you go against Pedro," Wells said. "We had some chances, but we didn't take advantage. You have to give them credit. They got on, stole bases and moved guys in. Every chance we get to execute, whether it's offensively or defensively, we have to execute."

"He pretty much did what he wanted to do when he wanted to do it," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He pitched in and out, up and down. He used all four parts of the plate. He did a nice job. Particularly when you give a guy like that a lead, it's going to be awfully tough to fight back against him."

The Mets completed their road trip winning four of seven heading into a 10-game homestand after the three-day respite.

"We needed a win going into the break. Pedro kept us in the game and kept his [pitch] count down, so it was nice to get everyone a little rest," Randolph said. "Now, we can take a break, regroup, get our heads together and come out in the second half.

"We're looking forward to it."

Chris Adamski is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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