PITTSBURGH (AP) - Mets starter Mike Pelfrey was strong. Pittsburgh's Paul Maholm was even better.
Maholm pitched seven shutout innings, Brandon Wood homered and the Pirates beat New York 3-1 on Monday night to split their four-game series.
Pelfrey (3-5) nearly matched Maholm, giving up two runs and four hits in seven innings. He did not walk a batter.
``I got outpitched by Maholm on the other side,' Pelfrey said. ``He was great, and you've got to tip your hat to him.'
For the second time in three days, the Mets (32-34) missed an opportunity to reach .500 for the second time since April 9.
The first three Pirates batters of the game singled, with Neil Walker's hit scoring Jose Tabata. Pelfrey, however, retired 20 of his final 21 after that. Wood led off the fifth by driving a 2-1 pitch to left for his second home run.
``After the first three hitters, I thought I did well,' Pelfrey said. ``Obviously, I made a mistake to Brandon Wood, and he made me pay the price for it. In the first inning, two of those pitches to the lefties were splits. I wanted to establish the pitch early but they came out swinging and were aggressive and hit balls hard. After that, I was happy with the way I pitched.'
Maholm (3-7) lowered his ERA to 3.12, allowing only three hits and two walks. Hampered by poor run support, he won for just the second time since April 25.
Maholm yielded only one hit over six innings in his previous start June 8, but for the fourth time this season, the bullpen cost him a win when it blew a save.
``Sometimes, a pitcher is too worried about making a mistake if there's no room for error or no large safety net to work with,' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ``In Paul's case, he's seen a lot, been through a lot, thrown a lot of innings. I know for a fact he's really comfortable with the way he's pitching now.'
Despite being outscored 18-7, Pittsburgh split a four-game series with New York for the second time in two weeks. The Pirates are 3-3 in their past six games despite scoring only 10 runs in that time.
``When it's game day, it's time to go compete and have fun,' Maholm said. ``When I get on the mound, my focus is to get the first guy of an inning out and get groundballs. That's how it's been going lately, and hopefully I can continue to get in a groove and stay that way.'
Joel Hanrahan tossed a perfect ninth for his 17th save in as many opportunities.
Walker had two RBIs as Pittsburgh (32-33) moved within a game of .500.
Both of Wood's homers have come during the homestand Pittsburgh just completed at 6-4. The Pirates won both games.
``It's always good to get your guy a win, especially when they're pitching their tail off and throwing like they've been throwing,' Wood added. ``I'm sure that's a little frustrating when we're not hitting and putting runs on the board.'
Walker saw eight pitches and worked a two-out walk against Tim Byrdak in the eighth after three Pirates had singles off Manny Acosta to load the bases.
For the second consecutive game, the Mets had a sacrifice fly that turned into a double play. On Monday, it was Jose Reyes who flied to left against Tim Wood with runners on first and third and no outs in the eighth.
Tabata made a sliding grab that appeared as if it possibly could have been a trap - but umpires ruled it a catch and Lucas Duda was doubled off first. Ruben Tejada scored on the play, the run upheld through a Pirates appeal that he left third too early.
``It was my fault,' Duda said. ``I should have only gone halfway to second, then waited for the umpire to make the call.'
The Mets also had a runner picked off second. They were charged with a peculiar - and questionable - error on Reyes at shortstop that led to the first Pittsburgh run. Reyes was called for interfering with Tabata as he was running to third on a single by Xavier Paul.
``I didn't see any obstruction,' Mets manager Terry Collins said. ``I didn't think it should be called, and my argument was that if (Tabata) felt he was obstructed, he wouldn't have walked off third base like nothing happened.'
NOTES: Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen was not in the starting lineup because of a scheduled day off. McCutchen extended his career-best hitting streak to 12 games with an eighth-inning single after he entering as part of a double switch. ... Reyes went 0 for 3 after getting at least two hits in each of his previous four games. ... Acquired in a trade from the Red Sox less than 24 hours before, Michael McKenry became the sixth catcher the Pirates have used this season, most since 1988. ... The Pirates said C Ryan Doumit's ankle is healing as expected and that he will report to the team's facility in Bradenton, Fla. A late-July return from the disabled list is targeted. ... Pittsburgh RHP Evan Meek (shoulder) was examined by Dr. James Andrews and was told to continue his rehabilitation. Meek is targeting a July return.
The Associated Press News Service
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