The Pittsburgh Pirates ' 2012 quest to end their losing ways is down to its final 10 games.
The Pirates must win six of their remaining contests to avoid a 20th straight losing season heading into Monday night's opener of a four-game road set with the New York Mets .
Pittsburgh (75-77) was as high as 16 games over .500 at 63-47 and well within reach of a postseason spot before resembling the team that has turned in baseball's worst record over the previous two decades. Its 19 straight losing campaigns are a record for North American professional sports."We're all in it together, whether you're up or whether you're down or whether you're sideways, we're all tied together," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We need to remember that."
There are still positives for the Pirates to build upon, starting with Andrew McCutchen . The All-Star center fielder is in position to win the batting title with a .336 average since San Francisco's suspended Melky Cabrera has removed himself from contention.
McCutchen has hit six homers in his last 14 games, but the Pirates have lost 11 of them to take themselves out of playoff contention. Pittsburgh won 8-1 at Houston on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep to baseball's worst team.
Josh Harrison had four hits Sunday in his fourth start of the month. The Pirates had dropped the previous 12 games he had appeared in.
New York (69-83), meanwhile, swept three home games from Miami over the weekend after entering that series on a five-game slide. Ruben Tejada singled home the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning of Sunday's 3-2 victory and David Wright hit a two-run homer.
Wright now has 1,415 hits, moving him within three of tying Ed Kranepool 's franchise record.
The Mets took two of three at PNC Park from May 21-23, although Harrison went 4 for 12 with three doubles and a triple in that set.
The Pirates will be out to improve upon their 2-9 all-time mark at Citi Field.
Pittsburgh rookie Kyle McPherson (0-1, 2.25 ERA) will make his second career start after replacing the demoted James McDonald on Wednesday and yielding two runs over 4 1-3 innings in a 3-1 loss to Milwaukee.
The right-hander, who began the year sidelined due to shoulder inflammation, could throw more than the 71 pitches he fired last week.
"I thought he was very resilient," Hurdle told the Pirates' official website. "He showed poise and battled very well."
The Mets will also turn to a right-hander in Jenrry Mejia (0-1, 9.00), who will make his second 2012 start and first since giving up five runs over three-plus innings as he was charged with a 9-6 loss at Milwaukee on Sept. 15. He worked a scoreless inning of relief five days later in his only appearance since.
Mejia's lone career start against the Pirates came Sept. 15, 2010. He gave up one unearned run over 2 1-3 innings in an 8-7 win before leaving with a right shoulder strain.
|August 31, 2012||Jeff Karstens||Day-to-Day||Hip flexor|
|August 27, 2012||Neil Walker||Day-to-Day||Lower back stiffness|
|August 25, 2012||Chad Qualls||15-Day DL||Left toe sprain|
|August 25, 2012||Jose Tabata||Day-to-Day||Left game - left groin discomfort|
|August 25, 2012||Chad Qualls||15-Day DL||Left toe sprain|
|August 19, 2012||Starling Marte||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|New York Mets|
|September 12, 2012||Ronny Cedeno||Day-to-Day||Left game - tight right hamstring|
|September 07, 2012||Andres Torres||Day-to-Day||Left knee bruise|
|August 18, 2012||Johan Santana||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|August 15, 2012||Rob Johnson||60-Day DL||Torn ligament, left thumb|
|August 02, 2012||Tim Byrdak||60-Day DL||Sore left shoulder|
|July 31, 2012||Andres Torres||Day-to-Day||Strained right thumb|
NEW YORK (AP) -- Ike Davis will take a 30-homer season as proof he's not as bad as he was in the first half.
Davis connected twice to set his career high, Jenrry Mejia pitched five effective innings for his first major league win and the New York Mets beat the plummeting Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 Monday night for their fourth straight victory.
"It's definitely made myself feel a little better about the season," Davis said.
Davis had a career-best five RBIs and David Wright had a run-scoring single to move within two hits of tying Ed Kranepool 's franchise record of 1,418 hits.
The Pirates lost for the 31st time in 43 games since improving to a season-high 16 games above .500 (63-47) on Aug. 8. They started the day 6 1/2 games back in the wild-card race with several teams ahead of them, and now need to win six of their last nine to avoid a 20th straight losing season.
"Unfortunately, the way we're going right now, this one backfired on us as well," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen went 1 for 3 with a triple to keep his batting average at .336 - behind only Melky Cabrera , who is at an NL-best .346 but has removed himself from consideration after being suspended for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Davis' homer to left-center off Kyle McPherson (0-2) in the fourth came after Wright walked. Davis hit a three-run shot off Jeff Karstens in the fifth to make it 6-0, a batter after Wright had an RBI single.
"You got to look at Ike Davis and say, `OK, he's legit,"` Mets manager Terry Collins said. "You can write off the first half ... for whatever it was. The package is there."
Davis got off to a horrendous start after the 25-year-old slugger missed much of last season with an ankle injury. He was diagnosed with a likely case of Valley Fever during spring training and didn't lift his batting average to .200 for good until July 4.
At one point his struggles were so great Collins showed his support for Davis by saying the Mets would not send him to the minors. That meant a lot to the first baseman.
"It was huge. My teammates were a huge part of that, too," Davis said. "It was really cool. It worked out the way it should've worked out."
While he's hitting just .227, Davis has three multihomer games this year, including a three-homer game on July 28 at Arizona, and has connected 18 times since the All-Star break. He leads the team with 88 RBIs.
So what's the difference?
"The difference is, I'm just not awful," Davis said. "The first 2 1/2 months I was terrible. I felt like I never had played baseball before."
Nearing the end of a lost season of their own, Mejia's outing has to be encouraging for the Mets. Rushed to the big leagues at 20 years old in 2010, the team's top pitching prospect went 0-4.
Mejia (1-1) had reconstructive elbow surgery in May 2011 after starting out in the minors.
This was Mejia's fourth appearance for the Mets this year. He gave up five runs in three innings in his first start on Sept 15 at Milwaukee.
Mejia allowed four singles and two walks Monday. The right-hander struck out four and only his last out was made by an outfielder. After going to three-ball counts on four of the first five batters, Mejia settled to make it five with a quick final two innings.
He was smiling broadly in front of his locker, where he stashed the lineup card his manager gave him.
"I hope he realizes his stuff's good enough if he's around the plate," Collins said. "I thought it was a huge step for him."
Hurdle said McPherson needed to be more aggressive in his second major league start. Instead he had trouble finding the plate and was lifted after 4 1-3 innings. He gave up four runs and four hits with three walks. He struck out three.
"I just failed to execute," McPherson said of the homer to Davis. "Ball got up, elevated, and the good hitter he is, he put a good swing on it."
Garrett Jones had an RBI single in the eighth and Jose Tabata a run-scoring single in the ninth for Pittsburgh.
NOTES: Davis' first homer was the Mets' 19th long ball aided by the new Citi Field dimensions. The visiting team has 25 such homers since they brought in the fences before this season. ... Mets RHP Frank Francisco (elbow tendinitis) has not pitched since Sept. 16 but Collins says that because there is no structural damage in the closer's arm he is still day to day. ... Hurdle said there "zero" hesitancy to get Karstens (5-4) another start but he'd like to see Jeff Locke (0-2), Tuesday's starter, and McPherson pitch, too. ... LHP Collin McHugh (0-2) will start for Mets on Tuesday against Locke.