PITTSBURGH -- The Mets broke out of their team-wide slump and snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Pirates, avoiding a sweep with a 6-5 win in 10 innings on Wednesday night at PNC Park.
Michael Conforto's game-tying, two-run homer in the eighth off reliever Jared Hughes forced the game into extra innings, and the Mets quickly went to work against Pirates left-hander Cory Luebke, the last man standing in an overworked Pirates bullpen. They loaded the bases on back-to-back singles and an intentional walk, then pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores delivered the go-ahead bloop single to center field.
"That was a hard-fought game for us," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We had to work hard for everything we got. And then to make it stand up, it was a struggle. We'll take it and get out of here."
The pitchers' duel between Noah Syndergaard and Jameson Taillon, making his long-awaited Major League debut, turned out to be a draw. Taillon allowed three runs on six hits and struck out three over six innings.
"This guy's a big league pitcher," Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli said. "The way he controls his attitude, the guy's a pro, man."
The Pirates nicked Syndergaard for two runs in the first inning and ran up his pitch count, but he battled through six innings, surrendering three runs (two earned) while striking out five.
"The postgame celebration was pretty loud in here," Syndergaard said. "It was a lot of fun to be a part of. It was just one of those wins that reminds you that you love playing for this team."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Wilmer wins it: For the second time in three innings, the Mets faced a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the 10th. In the eighth, they didn't score from it. This time, manager Terry Collins turned immediately to a pinch-hitter, Flores, who laced a first-pitch Luebke fastball into center field for an RBI single. That gave the Mets their first lead of the night and series.
"I was trying to get something up," Flores said. "I didn't want to pull the ball. It got on me a little bit, but sometimes better [to be] lucky than good." More >
Worth the wait: Taillon spent two years recovering from Tommy John surgery and a hernia operation before biding his time in Triple-A this spring. Finally given the opportunity he'd long dreamed about, Taillon checked off a number of big-league firsts. His first pitch: a 96-mph fastball, called for ball one. His first inning: 15 pitches, 10 strikes, one infield single. His first strikeout: Alejandro De Aza in the third inning, whiffing on an 88-mph changeup.
"That was fun. Definitely had some good adrenaline out there," Taillon said. "After a couple innings, I was able to take a step back, take a breath and appreciate it." More >
Game-tying homers: Perhaps fighting for his job with fellow infielder Kelly Johnson set to join the Mets this weekend, Ty Kelly launched a game-tying, two-run homer -- the first of his career -- to open the scoring off Taillon in the fourth. Ty's tie was short-lived; John Jaso gave the Pirates the lead right back with his RBI double in the bottom of the inning. But Conforto tied things up again with a two-run blast off Hughes in the eighth.
"I was happy to just get a hit in the first place," said Kelly, who planned to inscribe the ball with the date and Taillon's name. "That was the first thought that went into my head was that I tied it up. It just made it that much more fun."
Hot Coffee: Batting with Andrew McCutchen on first base and the game tied in the seventh inning, Gregory Polanco lashed at Jim Henderson's 93-mph fastball and nearly sent it out of PNC Park, but just foul. Four pitches later, Polanco ripped his third double of the night to right field. McCutchen wheeled around third base and scored the then-go-ahead run when Neil Walker, the former Pirates second baseman, bobbled the relay throw home.
"Special to watch him," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's doing some things that grab your attention. … It was a very good night for him." More >
"I don't think I've ever seen anything over 92 before. It's coming in there pretty loud." -- Taillon, on having to hit against Syndergaard
"I don't know if I've ever been around a player who can't wait to get out of town as bad as he can't wait to get out of here. What he had to go through the last three days was a tribute to the kind of guy he is. He didn't miss an autograph. He didn't miss a media session. He didn't miss any ceremonies. He shook hands. He waved. He deserves a good night's rest." -- Collins on Walker, who was making his first trip back to Pittsburgh
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Statcast™ measured Flores' game-winning hit at 64.6 mph, the Mets' softest-hit ball of the game excluding bunts.
Pirates right fielder Matt Joyce was ejected by home-plate umpire Alan Porter after striking out to end the seventh inning. Joyce was caught looking at an 86-mph slider from Henderson that appeared to be well inside the strike zone. Joyce struck out four times in four at-bats on Tuesday and struck out twice on Wednesday night.
"He felt he had a case," Hurdle said. "You never want to see players get thrown out late, there's no doubt about that."
Porter warned both benches after Hughes threw an 87-mph changeup behind Yoenis Cespedes in the eighth inning. Both Hughes and Cervelli argued at length with Porter, who issued the warning despite no recent beanball history between the Mets and Pirates. Syndergaard was thrown out of a game against the Dodgers last month without any warning, for throwing behind the back of Mets nemesis Chase Utley.
WHAT'S NEXT Mets: The Mets will look to cease scuffling against a Brewers team they swept last month, traveling to Milwaukee for the first of four games on Thursday at Miller Park. Right-hander Bartolo Colon will start the 8:10 p.m. ET opener opposite Jimmy Nelson.
Pirates: After catching an early flight to Denver, left-hander Jeff Locke will start the Pirates' mid-homestand makeup game against the Rockies at Coors Field at 5:10 p.m. ET on Thursday. Locke has been at his best lately, going 4-0 with a 2.76 ERA over his last four starts. Pittsburgh will spend less than 24 hours in Colorado, flying back after the game to begin a three-game series against the Cardinals on Friday at PNC Park.