DeGrom fans 13 over 5 innings, Mets sweep Pirates

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – Jacob deGrom struck out 13 – the most for a Mets pitcher who threw five innings or fewer- but didn’t factor into the decision Sunday when the NL East leaders beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-3 to complete a four-game sweep.

Mets pitchers tied a big league record with 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game, and New York remained one game ahead of Atlanta. New York can clinch its first playoff berth since 2016 with a win at Milwaukee on Monday night.

Oneil Cruz‘s three-run homer in the sixth chased deGrom and created a tie that remained intact until the Mets scored four in the eighth.

Terrance Gore pinch-ran in place of Tomas Nido, who singled off Robert Stephenson (2-2). With Brandon Nimmo at the plate, Gore stole second after three throws to first by Manny Banuelos, who went to a slide step upon his first pitch to Nimmo, then took third when catcher Jason Delay‘s throw sailed into center.

“I talked to `Nimm’ – if he stays there, bunt him over. If he takes off, pull it back, which is exactly what `Nimm’ did,”‘ Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “When he went to the slide step there instead of the conventional move, Terrance had him.”

Gore scored on Nimmo’s bloop single. The 31-year-old pinch-runner extraordinaire has 43 big league steals and just 79 regular season plate appearances but has won World Series rings with Kansas City (2015), the Los Angeles Dodgers (2020) and Atlanta (2021).

On Sunday, he received the giant sombrero awarded by Mets players to the team’s most valuable player in a win.

“They actually changed the name of it,” Gore said with a grin. “It actually was a hitter’s hat. But now it’s `best offensive player’ hat.”

Daniel Vogelbach added a one-out, two-run single and Eduardo Escobar had a run-scoring groundout.

The Mets stranded 12 in the first seven innings. But Jeff McNeil had an RBI single in the first and drew a bases-loaded walk in the second, when Pete Alonso hit into a run-scoring forceout.

DeGrom allowed a leadoff double to Cruz then retired the next 15 batters, 13 by strikeout. Sid Fernandez (June 30, 1986) and Oliver Perez (Sept. 12, 2006) each struck out 11 batters in five-inning starts for the Mets.

DeGrom threw 26 pitches in a first that included six changeups, his most pitches in an inning since 29 in the fifth against Arizona on May 9 last year. He needed just 61 pitches from the second through the fifth.

“He’s one of those guys where if he’s on, no one in the world’s going to hit him,” said Ke'Bryan Hayes, who struck out in both of his at-bats against deGrom.

Zack Collins, making his third appearance with the Pirates since being acquired from Toronto, led off the sixth with his first hit for Pittsburgh, Delay singled and Cruz homered just beyond the right-centerfield fence.

“Didn’t make some pitches when I needed to,” deGrom said. “The guys did a good job of putting up some runs for me. Then wasn’t able to go out and keep them where they’re at.”

The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner set a big league record by allowing three earned runs or fewer for the 40th straight start, breaking a tie with Jim Scott (1913-14).

Seth Lugo, Joely Rodriguez and Trevor May combined to limit the Pirates to one hit over three innings. Rodriguez (1-4) struck out a career-high five in two perfect frames and May ended the game against Jack Suwinski with the record-tying strikeout.

The Mets became the ninth team to strike out 20 in a nine-inning game, the first since Houston on July 3.

“Obviously, it starts with Jake,” Showalter said. “Outs are outs, but when you think of how hard it is to do and how infrequently it has been, it gets your attention.”

Pirates starter Johan Oviedo gave up three runs in four innings.

TENSIONS FLARE

The benches and bullpens cleared, but no punches were thrown after Alonso was hit on the left elbow by an Oviedo pitch in the first.

It marked the fifth time a Pirates pitcher plunked a Mets batter since Saturday. Oviedo and Alonso exchanged words and gestures and JMcNeil helped steer Alonso toward first base while players milled. After a couple minutes, the teams began heading to their benches and bullpens while “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” played at Citi Field.

Oviedo also hit Alonso on the right hand on May 5 last year, when Oviedo was pitching for St. Louis.

“We got a hit a lot this series and I don’t really like guys potentially throwing hard and hurting us, especially this late in the year,” Alonso said.

The Mets have been hit 102 times, three shy of the record set by Cincinnati last year.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: RHP JT Brubaker (right arm inflammation), who exited his start after three innings Friday night, was placed on the 15-day IL. Pittsburgh recalled RHP Luis Ortiz from Triple-A Indianapolis.

Mets: RHP Drew Smith (right lat) could be activated as soon as Tuesday. Smith hasn’t pitched since July 24.

UP NEXT

Pirates: Open a two-game series at the Yankees.

Mets: Max Scherzer (9-4, 2.26 ERA) will be activated to start Monday night’s series opener at Milwaukee after recovering from a strained left oblique. He will start for the first time since Sept. 3 and will make his fourth attempt at his 200th win.

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.

HELSLEY HURT

Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.

PIRATES AWARDS

Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.