The Pittsburgh Pirates ' postseason hopes have faded, and their chances of finishing with a winning record are dimming quickly.
The New York Mets ' recent success at home doesn't bode well for the Pirates' chances, either.
Pittsburgh attempts to avoid an 11th defeat in 13 games at Citi Field on Tuesday night, while the Mets go for their longest winning streak there in over two years.
The Pirates (75-78) were a season-high 16 games over .500 and held one of the NL's two wild-card spots on Aug. 8. They've gone into a tailspin since, losing 31 of 43 to drop virtually out of postseason contention.
Now, finishing with a winning record for the first time since last reaching the playoffs in 1992 seems unlikely with nine games left in the season.
Pittsburgh fell for the sixth time in seven games Monday, losing 6-2 at New York (70-83) to open this four-game set.
"Unfortunately, the way we're going right now, this one backfired on us as well," manager Clint Hurdle said.
Beginning to reverse that stretch in Flushing seems unlikely since the Pirates are 2-10 in their last 12 games there thanks in part to the staff's 5.12 ERA - 7.34 from the bullpen.
New York is vying for its first five-game home winning streak since a nine-game run from May 22-June 8, 2010. The team had been 4-25 with a nine-game slide at Citi Field leading up to the current streak.
Ike Davis will try to keep the Mets rolling with another strong effort at the plate after he had two homers with a career-high five RBIs in the series opener.
The first baseman leads New York with personal bests of 30 homers and 88 RBIs, but he has a .227 average.
"You got to look at Ike Davis and say, 'OK, he's legit,'" manager Terry Collins said. "You can write off the first half ... for whatever it was. The package is there."
Davis, though, is 0 for 5 against Wandy Rodriguez , the Pirates' scheduled starter.
Rodriguez (11-13, 3.76 ERA) has held the Mets to one run in seven innings over each of his last three starts against them, going 2-0.
The left-hander enters this meeting 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA in his last five starts, but the worst of those outings came in his most recent appearance. He was tagged for five runs and five hits in four innings Thursday against Milwaukee before leaving without a decision in a 9-7 loss.
The Mets are expected to counter with Collin McHugh (0-2, 3.86), who returns to the rotation after two relief appearances. The rookie right-hander allowed five runs - two earned - and five hits - three of them homers - in a 5-1 loss to Washington on Sept. 10.
McHugh has a 6.17 ERA in four games - two starts - since pitching seven innings of two-hit ball with a season-high nine strikeouts in a 1-0 win over Colorado in his major league debut Aug. 23.
|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) -- Pedro Alvarez had lots of people at Citi Field rooting for him to go long.
Alvarez hit his 30th homer, connecting for his first career shot in the city where he was a prep star and leading the Pittsburgh Pirates over the New York Mets 10-6 on Tuesday night.
"Any time I can hit a home run at home, it's always special," he said.
Alvarez drove in four runs, to the delight of his own personal cheering sections scattered around the ballpark. Among those who always encourage him is his sister, who once worked for the Mets.
"Every time I looked up, I saw someone else," he said.
Wandy Rodriguez settled down after a shaky start as the Pirates ended New York's four-game winning streak.
Pittsburgh avoided elimination in the playoff race, remaining mathematically in contention for the second NL wild-card spot. The Pirates posted their 76th victory, the team's most since 1999 when they won 78.
David Wright lined his 20th homer and added a two-run single, tying the Mets' career record of 1,418 hits set by Ed Kranepool . Justin Turner and Wright connected in the first inning for the team's first set of consecutive home runs this season.
"I'm not comfortable talking about something individual like this when we've had our struggles in the second half, not having done what all of us thought we were capable of doing," Wright said. "But I'll enjoy it at some point. Probably not tonight."
Alvarez hit a three-run shot that made it 4-0 in the first inning. He drew a bases-loaded walk in the fifth, and the Pirates went on to win for just the sixth time in 24 games.
Tied for the NL Central lead a week after the All-Star game, Pittsburgh (76-78) has faded to seventh place in the wild-card standings and is trying to avoid a 20th straight losing season.
Garrett Jones hit his 25th homer and drove in three runs for the Pirates.
Rodriguez (12-13) recovered from a rocky first and left in the seventh with a 7-3 lead. He improved to 5-4 since being traded from Houston to Pittsburgh in late July.
Rodriguez threw 45 pitches in the first inning, so many that a reliever began warming up. Rodriguez ran the bases the next inning and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said that helped his pitcher, who came out "a little too strong."
The Mets got one hit off Rodriguez after the opening inning, reversing his early struggles.
"It was dramatic," Hurdle said.
The Pirates backed their pitchers with several nice defensive plays. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen bumped into the padded wall after a catch, Jones rushed in from right field for a tumbling grab and shortstop Clint Barmes charged a slow grounder for an out.
McCutchen went 1 for 3 with two walks and is hitting .336. He is only behind San Francisco's Melky Cabrera , who is at .346 but has taken himself out of consideration for the batting title after being suspended for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Collin McHugh (0-3) was pulled soon after Josh Harrison 's two-run triple in the second. Harrison later scored on an error by Turner at second base.
Turner was involved in a play in the third that prompted arguments from both managers. He reached on a throwing error by Harrison from second base, made a brief turn toward second and casually returned to first. Hurdle contended first baseman Gaby Sanchez tagged Turner before he got back to first and, after all four umpires huddled, they agreed and called him out. Mets manager Terry Collins then disputed the call with three umps, to no avail.
NOTES: Mets LHP Robert Carson left after one batter in the seventh with a strained left elbow. X-rays were negative and he will have an MRI on Wednesday. Before the game, he wore a batting practice jersey with "Pookie-Nookie" on the back - his mom's nickname for him. ... The Pirates lead the NL with 101 road home runs. ... Mets OF Jason Bay was out of the lineup because of back stiffness. ... Alvarez joined McCutchen with 30 homers this year. The last time the Pirates had two 30-HR players was 2001 with Aramis Ramirez and Brian Giles . ... Pirates pitchers have struck out six for a franchise record of 1,127. The 1969 staff, led by Bob Veale and Dock Ellis , fanned 1,124. ... Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey will try for his 20th win Thursday afternoon vs. Pittsburgh. Collins says Dickey will make his final start next week at Miami on either the last day of the season or next-to-last day.