Starling Marte, Harrison Bader hit homers to help Mets sweep Pirates

NEW YORK — Sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the word “SWEEP” was written in the sand on the shuffleboard table that sits just inside the entrance of the Mets clubhouse. Call it a premonition or encouragement, whatever it was, it worked.

The Mets finished off a sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 9-1 win on Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field.

Starling Marte hit career home-run No. 150 and Harrison Bader hit the first of his season, while Luis Severino gave up only one unearned run to help the Mets win their fourth straight and move to 10-8 on the season. They’re 10-3 since their 0-5 start to the season with seven of those wins coming in comeback fashion.

This winning streak is coming at a good time with the team heading to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers this weekend and San Francisco next week. The Mets have faced some good teams so far this season, but only one truly elite team in the Atlanta Braves. Facing the Dodgers on the road will be a litmus test.

Severino (2-1) gave up an unearned run in the top of the third but faced only little traffic the rest of the way through his six-inning outing. The defense helped him out by turning three double plays. Severino scattered five hits, all singles, and walked three while striking out four.

Over his last three starts, the right-hander has allowed only two earned runs in 16 innings.

Zack Short walked to lead off the bottom of the third and with two outs, Marte teed off on left-hander Bailey Falter (1-1), putting the Mets ahead 2-1.

Tyrone Taylor and Bader blew the game open in the sixth. Right-hander Hunter Stratton started the season about as well as the Pirates (11-8) could have hoped, having not allowed a walk in 7 1/3 innings. But he gave up a leadoff single to Francisco Lindor and walked Pete Alonso to put two on with none out. Jeff McNeil advanced the runners on a sacrifice bunt and Stratton got Francisco Alvarez to pop up to second base.

Stratton was nearly out of the inning, but Taylor got a fastball on the outside corner of the plate and lined it into left to score two. Bader drove the first pitch he saw over the left-field fence. It was a high fly that the entire crowd knew was out just by the sound and it stayed fair for a two-run homer.

The Mets scored three more in the bottom of the eighth off Pirates closer David Bednar. Jorge Lopez, Jake Diekman and Grant Hartwig each threw scoreless innings to close the game out. The Mets were able to stay away from their high-leverage arms in the last two games of the series, so with an off day Thursday they should have a loaded bullpen to be able to work with against the Dodgers.

The Mets haven’t completely cured all that has ailed them. There was some sloppy defense at times and spotty command from Severino, as is evidenced by the three walks.

But the Mets’ relentless late-inning approach once again prevailed in the end.