8-22-10 Z-Cap: Pirates 2 Mets 1

Zach Duke and the Pittsburgh Pirates played spoilers Sunday afternoon, recording a 2-1 victory over the New York Mets and ending any hopes of NY picking up their first road series sweep since June 15-17th (vs. Cleveland). With the loss NY has fallen back down to .500 while ending their current road trip with a 4-3 record in the process. Duke (7IP, 1 ER, 5 H) out dueled Johan Santana (8IP, 2 ER, 9 K) improving to 6-12 while Santana became the first Mets starter to lose back-to-back complete games since Jerry Koosman(1977).

Duke stymied the Mets bats allowing only a first inning run when Carlos Beltran hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field to score Jose Reyes who reached on a bunt single to start the game. With his leadoff single, Reyes extended his hit streak to 10 games (18 for 39, .461 AVG) and is now tied with Keith Hernandez (1987) for the longest road hitting streak in team history (22 games).

Santana, who allowed only 4 ER  over his last 2 starts (2.11 ERA) made only a couple of mistakes on the afternoon which proved costly.  Johan struck out the first 4 batters he faced and did not allow a hit through the first 4 innings of the game. However, rookie third baseman Pedro Alveraz ended the no-hit bid with a single to right field to start the bottom of the 5th inning.  After Ryan Doumit grounded into a double play, former Met farm hand Lastings Milledge, drilled a hanging change up over the center field wall to tie the game at 1 run a piece. Pittsburgh took the lead (2-1) when Jose Tabata hit a 2-out,  solo home run in the bottom of the 6th inning off another handing change up from Santana. The New York ace had this to say after the game:

I feel good, I warm up pretty good, I feel good from the get go but, again they put a couple good swings and 2 pitches that stayed in the middle of the plate. A couple change up’s that didn’t do what they were supposed to do and it was just enough for them to win the ball game. But overall I felt really good. I was throwing my fastball and keeping the ball down and mixing all my pitches, I felt good.”

Evan Meek relieved Duke in the top of the 8th inning before handing the ball over to Joel Hanrahan, who pitched a scoreless 9th to pick up his 2nd save and salvage the series for the Pirates.  NY has an off day tomorrow before they open a 6 game home stand (3 vs. Marlins, 3 vs. Astros) starting Tuesday night when R.A. Dickey will battle Josh Johnson and the Florida Marlins. Dickey is 1-1 with a 6.35 ERA vs. the fish this season, but is coming off 2 starts (1-0) in which he allowed 2 ER over 17 1/3 IP (1.04 ERA).  Johnson is 7-1 lifetime vs. the Mets and to some, the leading candidate for the NL Cy Young Award (MLB leading 2.27 ERA).

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