PITTSBURGH (AP) — Tyler Naquin and Eduardo Escobar hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning, and the New York Mets beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1 in the first game of a split doubleheader on Wednesday.
The Mets moved a half-game back in front of Atlanta for first place in the NL East by relying on the mix of power and pitching that has kept them atop the division since early April.
Chris Bassitt (13-7) struck out 10 in seven innings, helping New York avoid its first four-game skid of the season. Bassitt’s 13 victories are a career best, topping the 12 games he won while pitching for Oakland in 2021.
And while the Braves have steadily chipped away at New York’s lead in the East — which grew to as much as 10 1/2 games at one point — Bassitt insisted the Mets aren’t panicked by the push from the reigning World Series champions.
“I’m sure that the world was going crazy, but, I mean, we’re fine,” Bassitt said.
New York ace Jacob deGrom (4-1) is scheduled to start the second game of the doubleheader against Pittsburgh’s Johan Oviedo (2-1).
Naquin hit a three-run shot to the bullpen beyond the center-field fence for his 11th homer of the season. Escobar followed with a high drive to the seats above the 21-foot high Clemente Wall in right field that staked the Mets to a 5-0 lead.
“I think it’s a reminder of what he’s capable of doing,” New York manager Buck Showalter said of Escobar, who has three home runs in his last five games and is a career .410 hitter (34 of 83) against Pittsburgh.
Naquin, Escobar, Pete Alonso and Brandon Nimmo had two hits each for New York, which scored more runs in the first four innings than it managed during a three-game skid against Washington and Pittsburgh.
Nimmo led off the game against opener Duane Underwood Jr. (1-6) with an infield single. Alonso followed with a double and Nimmo scored on a sacrifice fly by Jeff McNeil.
The Mets broke it open in the fourth when Daniel Vogelbach — acquired in a trade with the Pirates in July — singled, Bryse Wilson hit Mark Cahna with a pitch and Naquin followed with his fourth homer since he was acquired in a trade with Cincinnati on July 28.
Greg Allen had an RBI double for Pittsburgh. Rookie shortstop Oneil Cruz and first baseman Michael Chavis had two hits each.
The Pirates fell to 5-19 in their last 24 games and haven’t won back-to-back contests in over a month.
Mets: Held RF Starling Marte out of the lineup a day after he took a 96 mph fastball from Pittsburgh’s Mitch Keller to the middle finger of his right (throwing) hand.)Showalter said Marte went back for more testing on Wednesday after some of the imaging results on Tuesday night were inconclusive. … Placed RHP Max Scherzer on the 15-day injured list with left side irritation and recalled left-handed reliever Alex Claudio from Triple-A Syracuse.
ON THE MOVE
The Pirates recalled infielder Hoy Park from Triple-A Indianapolis, claimed 1B/C Zack Collins off waivers from Toronto and RHP Junior Fernandez off waivers from St. Louis. To make room on the 40-man roster for Collins and Fernandez, the Pirates designated left-handed reliever Cam Vieaux and utility infielder Josh VanMeter for assignment. VanMeter hit .187 with three home runs and 14 RBIs in 67 games for Pittsburgh.
DeGrom will face the Pirates for the first time since 2018 in Game 2. DeGrom is 1-2 with a 2.43 ERA in four career starts against Pittsburgh.