Mets complete comeback against Pirates with Francisco Lindor’s 9th-inning hit

PITTSBURGH — It took 7 2/3 innings to break a scoreless tie on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park. After nearly eight innings with no action, the final two innings provided plenty.

Brandon Nimmo gave the New York Mets a lead in the top of the eighth, Edwin Diaz lost it in the bottom of the inning and Francisco Lindor took it back for good in the ninth, helping the Mets come back for a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“The at-bats in the ninth were unbelievable,” said manager Carlos Mendoza.

With the Pirates up 2-1 after scoring twice in the bottom of the eighth, former Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman (1-4) came on for the save. The veteran fireballer walked Francisco Alvarez to lead off the ninth and gave up a single to Harrison Bader. He struck out Mark Vientos and Luis Torrens, but his Cuban countrymate Jose Iglesias proved to be a tough at-bat.

Iglesias worked him for eight pitches, laying off a scorching, 101.7 MPH fastball to draw ball 4 and load the bases.

With Lindor down to the last out, the shortstop lined a slider to left field, placing it perfectly in no-man’s land. Pinch-runner Ben Gamel and Bader scored to put the Mets back on top, 3-2.

“Overall, the at-bats, I think, were maybe the best we’ve seen against a pretty good arm,” Mendoza said. “I’m glad that it worked out for us today.”

Lindor went 3 for 4 with a double, two RBI and a walk on a day when offense was tough to come by.

“I was so locked in,” Lindor said of the ninth inning. “I was up closer to the on deck circle. I just felt like everybody was just seeing every single pitch and cheering, and talking about the approach of what we were going to do against [Chapman] to make sure we tied the game, at least.”

Diaz was pacing the dugout, trying to stay warm after blowing the lead.

Up 1-0 after Nimmo’s eighth-inning double off Colin Holderman, a former Mets reliever, right-hander Dedniel Nuñez put two on with two out. The Pirates pinch-hit Josh Palacios for Connor Joe, but the Mets are carrying only one left-handed reliever, veteran Jake Diekman, who has been struggling as of late.

So Mendoza brought in Diaz for a four-out save.

“Once I got Diaz hot in the eighth, I felt it was the right spot there,” Mendoza said. “He’s our closer, he’s our guy. I’ve been saying it, but for us to get to where we want to get, we need him.”

Diaz walked Palacios to load the bases. Nick Gonzales then singled through the left side to score two and put Pittsburgh ahead.

But then came the ninth-inning rally and Diaz knew he couldn’t let the team down.

“They [were] pushing each other,” Diaz said. “After every guy got on base or came back to the dugout after making an out out there, everyone was pushing everyone to stay in the game. That’s what they did in the ninth. I saw that and I didn’t want to put myself down, so I stayed with them …

“As soon as I went to the mound, I was locked in and tried to make pitches.”

Diaz redeemed himself, retiring the side in order in the bottom of the ninth to record the win (3-1).

“As soon I saw the guy battle back in that ninth inning, I knew,” Diaz said. “They told me as soon as the inning was done, ‘If we tie it or take the lead, you’re going back out.’ I told myself, ‘We’ve got to get the W, we’ve got to get the W in any way.’ And that’s what I did.”

Left-hander Sean Manaea and right-hander Luis Ortiz each tossed six scoreless innings before handing the ball over to their respective bullpens. Pirates’ reliever Carmen Mlodzinski pitched around a one-out double and Mets’ right-hander Reed Garrett got an inning-ending double play after allowing a leadoff single.

Manaea went 3 2/3 innings without giving up a hit, but the Mets couldn’t give the lefty any run support in return.

The right-handed Ortiz took the start for the Bucs. A reliever who has been used as an opener in the past, Ortiz took the place of injured rookie Jared Jones in the rotation. He filled in admirably, shutting the Mets out over six innings and scattering four hits.

Manaea held the Pirates to just two hits, while walking three and striking out six. He’s allowed only two runs (one earned) over his last three starts (16 innings).

The Mets (44-44) conclude an eight-game road trip against Pittsburgh (42-47) on Monday afternoon. The visitors lead the series, 2-1.

“That’s the beautiful thing about baseball,” Manaea said. “You can be on the edge of your seat the whole time, and you can be down in the dumps and then be back on top. There was a lot going on, but that’s what makes this game.”

Notes

The Mets acquired left-handed reliever Matt Gage in exchange for cash considerations from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday and optioned him to Triple-A Syracuse. A 31-year-old journeyman, Gage is an upstate New York native from Johnstown who played college ball at Siena College.

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