After being scorched by the Pirates for six runs in a make-up game at Shea on Monday, the bullpen was able to hang onto the lead tonight in Pittsburgh.
The Mets led 2-0 heading into the eighth thanks to seven shutout innings from Mike Pelfrey. Pelfrey seemed to breeze through the game, allowing just seven hits and zero walks. It was typical Big Pelf, pounding the zone with his mid-90s sinker and getting 14 groundball outs.
After the seventh, Pelfrey had thrown 100 pitches, 59 of them strikes, and likely could have gone back out for the eighth. However, late into the season, the Mets are watching Pelfrey's innings and pitch counts.
Last season, Pelfrey pitched 152.2 innings, splitting time between High Class-A Port St. Lucie, Triple-A New Orleans, and the big leagues with New York.
His previous career high was in college at Wichita State in 2005 where he threw 139.2 innings while posting a 1.93 ERA. So far this season Pelfrey has thrown 145 innings so, barring an injury, he will surpass his previous career high by quite a bit.
Jerry Manuel went with Duaner Sanchez in the eighth inning with a two-run lead. The first batter he faced, Jack Wilson, hit his first home run of the season into the stands in left.
Oh boy, here we go again.
However, Sanchez recovered and got Chris Gomez to groundout. Manuel then went to lefty Pedro Feliciano to face left-handed hitting Nate McLouth. Feliciano struck out McLouth, but then surrendered a double to Freddy Sanchez.
After walking Ryan Doumit intentionally, Feliciano got Adam LaRoche to ground out to end the threat.
In the ninth, Manuel once again skipped over Eddie Kunz, who now has pitched one-third of an inning in the last nine days, and went with Aaron Heilman.
Andy LaRoche started the inning by hitting a groundball to Carlos Delgado. Delgado backed away from the ball, and it deflected off his glove and got past him. However, rookie second baseman Argenis Reyes was backing him up and made an excellent diving stop and an accurate throw from his knees to Heilman to get LaRoche.
Heilman subsequently struck out Brandon Moss. After walking Jason Michaels, got Jack Wilson to pop out to pick up his third save of the season.
Both of New York's runs came in the first inning. David Wright came to the plate with no outs and the Reyes' (Argenis and Jose) on at first and third. Wright ripped a single to right, driving in Jose and allowing Argenis to advance to third. Argenis then scored on a wild pitch.
Great defense was the theme for the Mets, as several good plays, including the aforementioned dive by Argenis Reyes, kept Pittsburgh runs off the board.
It started with the second defensive play of the game for New York, as David Wright made a diving stop on a Freddy Sanchez grounder that took a bad hop, and threw to first to get the out.
In the sixth, with McLouth on second after a leadoff double, Pelfrey grabbed a one-hop comebacker and caught McLouth in a rundown between second and third. Wright applied the tag for the out and Sanchez was held at first.
Two pitches later Pelfrey snagged another comebacker, turned, and fired to second. Jose Reyes made a great throw to first to complete the double play and end the inning.
In the seventh, with one out and Adam LaRoche on second, Brandon Moss hit a single to center. Carlos Beltran came charging in and fired a two-hop strike to catcher Brian Schneider to nail LaRoche at the plate and preserve the shutout for the time being.
The Phillies defeated the Padres 1-0 behind a stellar performance from Jamie Moyer, so the Mets remain atop the NL East, one game ahead of Philadelphia.
Player of the Game: Mike Pelfrey—W(11-8), 7 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K