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Pirates outlast Mets in 11 innings, 3-2

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PITTSBURGH (AP) - Jeremy Hefner's run of spectacular starts remained intact.

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The New York Mets' four-game winning streak? Not so much.

Jordy Mercer singled home Andrew McCutchen with two outs in the 11th inning on Friday night to lift the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 3-2 win on Friday night and put a dent in New York's momentum heading into the All-Star break.

The Mets came in 16-9 in their last 25 games while attempting to recover from a poor first two months of the season. They ended up dropping their fourth straight to the Pirates when reliever Gonzalez Germen couldn't escape the first appearance of his big-league career unscathed.

Mercer's grounder eluded shortstop Omar Quintanilla and rolled into center field, giving McCutchen all the time he would need to beat Juan Lagares' throw to the plate.

``It was a pretty good pitch because it was a groundball but it was well-located where nobody could catch it,'' Germen said.

Germen was forced into the game after reliever LaTroy Hawkins felt tightness while warming up earlier and was unavailable. New York manager Terry Collins praised Germen for hanging in there.

After the walk to McCutchen, Germen struck out Pedro Alvarez and Gaby Sanchez before Mercer came through.

``He made some great pitches, too,'' Collins said. ``The 3-1 pitch to Gaby Sanchez was about as (gutsy) of a pitch that you'll ever see.''

Mets All-Star David Wright had two hits and extended his hitting streak to 12 games. He had an RBI single but also flied out with two runners on to end the New York 10th. Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit his third homer of the season but the Mets fell to 5-7 in extra innings.

``Extra innings aren't bad now and again but when you make a habit of it like we do, and on top of that not just play 10 or 11 innings, well that makes it pretty tough on you,'' Wright said.

Vin Mazzaro (5-2) retired all three batters he faced to earn the victory. Starling Marte had two of Pittsburgh's six hits, and Alvarez added his 24th home run.

Wright, the starting NL All-Star third baseman and Home Run Derby captain, added Alvarez to the NL's derby roster on Thursday after Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez pulled out because of a hand injury.

Still, Wright's perceived initial snub wasn't forgotten by Pirates fans. He was booed lustily before each at bat, even though he and Alvarez - who will make his All-Star debut - exchanged a handshake and a brief chat before the national anthem.

``They're knowledgeable fans, they know what's going on and it's cool that they're upset and passionate about it,'' Wright said. ``It made for a nice atmosphere.''

Alvarez wasted little time celebrating. One batter after Jose Tabata reached on an infield single, Alvarez hit the first pitch he saw from Jeremy Hefner into the New York bullpen in center field. He trotted past Wright without looking up as the seventh sellout crowd of the season roared.

It was the only noise the Pirates would make against Hefner. The right-hander settled down and retired 14 straight after Alvarez's blast. He needed just 78 pitches to get through seven innings, allowing three hits and striking out three without issuing a walk.

``Last year and even at the beginning of this year I would have folded or given up more runs or whatever the case may be,'' Hefner said. ``I've been able to bounce back, turn the page and give quality outings after giving up some runs early.''

It marked the eighth straight start in which Hefner gave up two earned runs or fewer, the longest streak by a Mets pitcher since Johan Santana did it over 13 starts between 2008 and 2009.

Pittsburgh's Charlie Morton gave up two runs, six hits, and a walk with four strikeouts in his longest start since returning from elbow surgery last month. Morton rolled through five innings before Wright delivered an RBI single in the sixth.

Morton's only real mistake came on a 2-0 fastball that Nieuwenhuis hit into the first row of seats in right-center to tie it at 2.

NOTES: New York right-hander Carlos Torres (0-1, 0.51 ERA) makes his first major league start in nearly three years on Saturday when he fills in for ace Matt Harvey, who is dealing with a blister on his right index finger and an innings limit. Collins says Torres could earn a regular spot in the rotation. The 30-year-old Torres has allowed just one run in 10 relief appearances since being called up from Triple-A in mid-June. A.J. Burnett (4-6, 3.05 ERA) starts for the Pirates. ... Pittsburgh won't send rookie RHP Gerrit Cole to Triple-A Indianapolis during the All-Star break. Cole is 4-2 with a 3.68 ERA since making his debut on June 11. The right-hander started on Tuesday, and the Pirates will let him have a few days off during the break rather than have him make a spot start in Indianapolis to stay on his routine. ... The Pirates acquired minor league infielder Russ Canzler from Baltimore for RHP Tim Alderson. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Pirates moved RHP James McDonald (shoulder) to the 60-day disabled list.

AP NEWS
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The Associated Press
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