It was a good old fashioned pitching duel in Pittsburgh Tuesday, as R.A. Dickey squared off with James MacDonald. And then things got sloppy, but the Mets pulled out the victory.
The Mets scratched out a run in the second — MacDonald walked Daniel Murphy and Ronny Cedeno, and with two outs Mike Nickeas singled to score Murphy. Nickeas was thrown out trying to extend his single into a double.
MacDonald virtually shut down the Mets the rest of the way. That was the only run he would allow in seven innings, allowing just four hits, walking those two batters and striking out eight Mets.
Dickey was just as good. The Pirates tied the game at one in the sixth on a sacrifice fly which followed a triple by Josh Harrison that Kirk Nieuwenhuis mishandled. He didn’t pick it up cleanly in center, allowing Harrison to go to third. Nieuwenhuis was not charged with an error, but had he picked it up properly Harrison would have likely stopped at second.
Dickey lasted seven innings, allowing just the one run with a career-high 11 strikeouts and no walks.
Then it was in the hands of the bullpens. Mike Baxter doubled off of Juan Cruz with one out in the eighth on a ball that glanced off centerfielder Andrew McCutchen’s glove, and then Nieuwenhuis walked on four really close pitches to make it first and second. David Wright struck out — his third strikeout on the night. But Lucas Duda came through with a single just past the first baseman to score Baxter to make it 2-1. Chris Resop came in for Cruz, and Daniel Murphy greeted him with an easy grounder to third that Pedro Alvarez bobbled. The error made it 3-1 Mets.
Jon Rauch came in to pitch the eighth, and for the second straight night he was victimized by poor defense. With Jose Tabata on second with a double and with two outs, McCutchen lofted a pop fly to short right. Murphy went back on it and had it lined up, but it hit off of his glove. Tabata scored to make it 3-2. Murphy’s back was to the plate when he went for the catch, and those are always difficult plays. But Murphy should have had it, and it should have been scored as an error. Tim Byrdak came on to get the third out.
Then it was Frank Francisco time. And he was flawless for his 11th save of the season. Mets win 3-2. Dickey moves to 6-1 — he’s tied for the most wins in baseball.