Difo hit in 9th caps 5-run comeback as Pirates edge Mets 6-5

Jul 11, 2021, 3:15 AM | Updated: 4:10 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Wilmer Difo’s tiebreaking single in the ninth inning capped Pittsburgh’s biggest comeback of the season, and the Pirates rallied from an early five-run deficit to beat the New York Mets 6-5 Sunday.

“That’s a helluva way to end the first half,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “We go down 5-0 and they battled their (rear ends) off for the rest of the game. It was really cool to see.”

The NL East-leading Mets — atop their division at the All-Star Break for the first time since 2007 — jumped out to a 5-0 lead against Chase De Jong in the first on a two-run homer by Francisco Lindor and a three-run shot by Michael Conforto.

The Pirates began inching back via the long ball in the fifth, when Rodolfo Castro and Michael Perez hit back-to-back solo home runs.

Castro hit a two-run homer in the sixth — per Elias, he is the first player since Kyle Higashioka in 2018 to homer for each of his first three big league hits — and helped keep the Pirates within a run by spearing a line drive by Brandon Nimmo in the seventh and firing to first to double up Luis Guillorme.

“It’s a huge dream come true and to see the dream flourish even more and get even deeper — oh my gosh, I feel amazing,” a grinning Castro said through an interpreter.

Closer Edwin Diaz, the fifth pitcher used by the Mets, wriggled out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the eighth to preserve a 5-4 lead. Diaz (3-3) gave up a one-out double to Kevin Newman in the ninth before retiring Bryan Reynolds on a groundout.

But John Nogowski hit an RBI single — his 14th hit in 28 at-bats since joining the Pirates on Monday, the most by a Pittsburgh player in his first seven games with the team since at least 1901 — and Difo followed with his run-scoring hit down the third base line.

David Bednar (2-1) allowed two hits in a scoreless eighth. Richard Rodriguez worked around a leadoff single by Nimmo in the ninth to earn his 12th save.

“Twenty-seven outs, a lot can happen,” Nogowski said. “Real easy to kind of roll over there, last game before the break, you’ve got an unbelievable closer on the mound, great stuff. But I don’t think that crossed any of our minds. Great at-bats.”

Difo and Adam Frazier had three hits for the Pirates, who are in last place in the NL Central at the All-Star Break for the first time since 2010.

De Jong allowed five runs and four hits and three walks with three strikeouts in five innings. He retired 14 of the final 16 batters he faced.

The Mets headed into the All-Star break after blowing their biggest lead of a season in a loss.

“All losses are tough,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “We had the 5-0 lead and we didn’t get much going afterward.”

Lindor, who flied out to end the game, had three hits with a walk. He is batting .333 with two homers, 10 RBIs and a .500 on-base percentage since July 1. He entered the month hitting .215 with nine homers, 26 RBIs and a .301 on-base percentage.

Aaron Loup served as New York’s opener and tossed two scoreless innings in the first start of his 10-year big league career. Jerad Eickhoff followed by giving up two runs and six hits over 2 2/3 innings. Jeurys Familia, Miguel Castro and Diaz combined to allow four runs, seven hits and three walks in four innings.

Rojas said usual late-inning options Seth Lugo and Trevor May were unavailable after pitching in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.

“We were short on pitching,” Rojas said. “Some guys had to come in and try to do the inning-plus and could not quite do it.”


Both teams returned their 27th players from Saturday’s doubleheader — RHP Geoff Hartlieb for the Mets and RHP Max Kranick for the Pirates — to their Triple-A affiliates. In addition, New York optioned RHP Nick Tropeano to Syracuse to make room for RHP Jerad Eickhoff and created a spot on the 40-man roster for Eickhoff by designating for assignment RHP Stephen Tarpley.


The start for Loup was his first since he was in Class A with the Toronto Blue Jays organization in 2010. His 436 appearances without a start entering Sunday were the 19th-most among active pitchers.


Pirates: LHP Steven Brault (left lat) tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings for Class A Bradenton in his first rehab appearance. Brault has yet to pitch for the Pirates this season.

Mets: LHP David Peterson (right side) threw for the first time since he was injured June 30.


After the All-Star Break, the Mets and Pirates oppose each other again, this time in Pittsburgh, for a three-game series scheduled to begin Friday.


More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) battle for t...
Associated Press

LeBron in Vegas? He makes an expansion pitch to Adam Silver

LAS VEGAS (AP) — LeBron James came to Las Vegas for a preseason game. And a pitch. James, who has spoken in the past about wanting to eventually own an NBA franchise — with Las Vegas on his mind — sent a crystal-clear message to Commissioner Adam Silver on Wednesday night, reminding him of his […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Dallas Stars' Jason Robertson skates during the third period of an NHL hockey game against t...
Associated Press

Stars sign 41-goal scorer Robertson to $31M, 4-year deal

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Jason Robertson has signed a $31 million, four-year contract with the Dallas Stars after the young 40-goal scorer missed the first two weeks of training camp. The Stars announced the deal late Wednesday night, after their exhibition game in Denver, only a week before the regular season opener Oct. 13 at […]
24 hours ago
The ski slopes are almost devoid of snow at the Tūroa ski field, on Mt. Ruapehu, New Zealand on Se...
Associated Press

Missing snow puts famed New Zealand ski areas on precipice

TUROA SKI AREA, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s Turoa ski area is usually a white wonderland at this time of year, its deep snowpack supporting its famed spring skiing. This season, it’s largely a barren moonscape, with tiny patches of snow poking out between vast fields of jagged volcanic boulders. The ski area was […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Kansas City Royals pitching coach Cal Eldred in the seventh inning of a baseball game, May 1...
Associated Press

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians. The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, […]
24 hours ago
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) blocks a shot by Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25...
Associated Press

James scores 23 points, but not enough as Suns defeat Lakers

LAS VEGAS (AP) — LeBron James flashed his midseason form Wednesday night, scoring 23 points in 18 minutes before the Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Lakers 112-115. James, who missed all seven of his shots in Los Angeles’ loss to Sacramento on Monday, was much more aggressive with the Lakers playing without Anthony Davis. […]
24 hours ago
Central Florida coach Gus Malzahn, left, and SMU coach Rhett Lashlee talk before an NCAA college fo...
Associated Press

UCF scores 31 unanswered points, beats SMU in AAC opener

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — John Rhys Plumlee threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns, both coming in the second half to Ryan O’Keefe, and UCF scored 31 unanswered points to beat SMU 41-19 on Wednesday night in a game postponed because of tropical weather. UCF trailed 13-10 at halftime before scoring four touchdowns in the […]
24 hours ago
Difo hit in 9th caps 5-run comeback as Pirates edge Mets 6-5