NEW YORK -- New York and Pittsburgh went to extras for the second straight night. And for the second straight night, the Pirates prevailed. Chris Stewart's pinch-hit RBI single in the 14th inning gave them a 5-3 marathon win over the Mets that featured tons of power, strong relief pitching and one mesmerizing throw.
Before that, the night belonged to Yoenis Cespedes, who collected two hits off Pirates starter Charlie Morton and showcased for the first time in Queens the otherworldly right arm that helped make him the intrigue of the baseball world after defecting from Cuba in 2011. Cespedes kept a 3-3 game tied by firing a one-hop laser from the left-center field wall in the ninth. The ball reached third baseman Juan Uribe just in time for him to tag Rodriguez, who was trying to stretch a double into a triple with one out.
Morton mystified the Mets for six innings after being spotted an early 3-0 lead, scattering two hits and striking out nine. The script flipped quickly in the seventh, when Uribe led off with a solo home run to center, and after an Aramis Ramirez error allowed Travis d'Arnaud to reach, rookie Michael Conforto tied the game at 3 with a two-run shot off the Honda sign beyond the right-field fence.
Niese allowed homers to Ramirez and Gregory Polanco, and was removed after just 83 pitches, for a pinch-hitter in the sixth, with the Mets offense scuffling. New York's bullpen notched seven scoreless innings before Pittsburgh broke through against Gilmartin, highlighted by Hansel Robles' three-inning effort.
"But what a strong effort by Charlie," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Nothing going on for six innings, then things got a little complicated for him."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cespedes' cannon: Before his first game with the Mets, Cespedes casually tossed a ball from the right-field line during a pregame warmup. The ball landed over the left-center field fence. Saturday night he displayed that ability in real time. His clutch toss was tracked by Statcast™ at 89.4 mph and eliminated any need for a relay, turning a one-out double into a two-out, bases empty situation for Mets closer Jeurys Familia. More >
Polanco still smoking: Polanco stayed hot for the Bucs, registering his third three-hit game in the last five. Pittsburgh's leadoff hitter singled in the first, homered in the third and singled again in the fifth -- all off the lefty Niese. Polanco is hitting .450 (18-for-40) during a nine-game hitting streak. More >
The kid is alright: Conforto found a 2-1 changeup low in the zone and unloaded for the second late, game-tying hit of his three-week Major League career. He's rewarded the Mets' confidence in him against right-handed pitching with 15 runs scored and 12 RBIs over his first 17 Major League games. Conforto's second Major League home run left the bat at 108 mph, according to Statcast™.
Blanton holds down the fort: Blanton came up huge for the Pirates, picking up the victory after blanking the Mets on one hit, while striking out six, in innings 11, 12 and 13.
"We just tried to hold it right there," Blanton said. "We know our offense is good, and we were eventually going to score, so just hold it there as long as possible." More >
"No. Not from that distance." -- Mets manager Terry Collins, on whether he had ever seen a throw like Cespedes'.
"We're battle tested. We've played our share of extra-inning games. We've played our share of one-run games. We've had a lot of different things thrown at us." -- Hurdle, whose Pirates won their seventh straight extra-inning game.
DUDA FORCED INTO ACTION
With backup catcher Anthony Recker the only other option, Mets manager Terry Collins sent Lucas Duda to pinch-hit for Robles in the 12th. Duda hadn't appeared in a game since Monday due to a lumbar strain, and didn't plan to return to the lineup until Tuesday in Baltimore. Using Duda eliminated the possibility of New York backdating any potential disabled-list stint for the first baseman, if he ends up needing one.
"He's making headway," Collins said. "We're still targeting Tuesday for him getting back in the lineup." More >
Pirates:Jeff Locke, who has allowed three or four runs in each of his last five starts, has the tough task of keeping up with Matt Harvey in Sunday's 1:10 p.m. ET series finale with the Mets at Citi Field. Locke has exceeded 100 pitches in only three of his 22 starts.
Mets: New York looks to avoid a season sweep at the hands of Pittsburgh by sending Harvey (11-7, 2.91 ERA) to the hill. The Pirates tagged Harvey for the worst start of his career May 23, when he allowed seven earned runs in four innings.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.