Syndergaard whiffs 11, Flores and Mets rout Pirates 11-2
NEW YORK (AP) A pregame powwow with hitting coach Kevin Long did wonders for all those backups in the New York Mets' lineup.
Noah Syndergaard didn't need much help anyway.
Wilmer Flores homered and drove in four runs, Syndergaard struck out 11 while taking a shutout into the ninth inning, and the Mets piled up a season-high 19 hits in routing the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-2 on Wednesday night.
''We got together and we went out there and tried to relax and have good at-bats,'' Flores said. ''Every guy is here for a reason - because they can hit up here, and we're good enough to win games. And with the pitching that we have, I don't think we need many runs. You know, we're counting on our guys. I mean, we did it last year and we'll try to keep ourselves right there.''
Late replacement Kelly Johnson also homered for New York, which had lost three straight and six of nine. Johnson, Rene Rivera and substitute second baseman Matt Reynolds all had three hits and two RBIs.
Yoenis Cespedes added three hits and scored three times as the Mets busted loose at the plate against lefty Jeff Locke (5-5). Shut out in the series opener the previous night, New York had been struggling to score lately with an injury-depleted lineup missing five regulars.
This time, every starting position player got a hit for the Mets, and seven of the eight had at least two.
When he came to bat in the eighth, Syndergaard (7-2) received a standing ovation from the crowd of 32,117. With the big right-hander still under 100 pitches, Mets manager Terry Collins let Syndergaard try for his first complete game in the majors.
''He deserved to go out there for the ninth inning and see if he could get the shutout,'' Collins said.
But then John Jaso smacked a leadoff double for his third hit, and one out later Syndergaard gave up an RBI double to pinch-hitter David Freese. That was it for Syndergaard, visibly disappointed he couldn't finish the job. He acknowledged he wanted to go the distance ''pretty badly.''
''I was kind of not really satisfied with myself after not being able to complete that game,'' he said. ''It was still a lot of fun to be a part of. The offense really came alive.''
Syndergaard walked off the mound to another warm ovation and settled for winning his fifth consecutive decision. Jeurys Familia finished up.
Jaso singled sharply on Syndergaard's first pitch and again with two outs in the sixth. In between, Syndergaard retired 17 straight.
''He was really good. I got lucky,'' Jaso said.
Syndergaard allowed five hits overall and walked none in a career-high 8 1/3 innings. The second-year starter threw 115 pitches, one short of his most in the majors, and was hitting 99 mph on the radar gun in the eighth.
Earlier, he froze Pirates star Andrew McCutchen for strike three looking on a 101 mph fastball in the fourth and a 100 mph heater to end the sixth with two on.
Locke was charged with seven runs and nine hits in four-plus innings, losing his second consecutive ugly outing following a four-game winning streak.
''A basic lineup had some timely hits,'' Locke said. ''There were some opportunities to make better pitches tonight, but I've thrown that same game tons of times with different results, that's for sure, and it just didn't work out tonight.''
Pirates: Starling Marte left in the fifth inning with a swollen cheek after diving for Cespedes' single - the ball bounced in front of Marte and hit him under his left eye. The left fielder was smiling as he walked toward the dugout with a trainer.
Mets: 2B Neil Walker (lower back) missed his third straight game and went to the doctor. He felt a lot better after receiving some medication, Collins said, and hopes to play Thursday night. ... CF Juan Lagares (left thumb) was set to bat leadoff but got scratched from the lineup about 75 minutes before the first pitch because his thumb stiffened following indoor batting practice. Johnson was inserted in left field, with Cespedes shifting to center and RF Curtis Granderson moving back up to his regular leadoff spot. Lagares has only come off the bench since partially tearing a ligament in his thumb. He said he will see the doctor Thursday. ''I don't know what's going to happen,'' he said. ... LF Michael Conforto said his sore left wrist was feeling better and he thinks he will start Thursday. ... Collins said he's come to grips with the possibility that 3B David Wright might not return this season if he has surgery for a herniated disk in his neck. A decision is expected soon. ''He wants it resolved. He wants to move forward. Whatever it has to be, he's ready for it,'' Collins said.
Pirates RHP Juan Nicasio (5-5, 5.34 ERA) starts the rubber game of the series Thursday night against 43-year-old RHP Bartolo Colon (5-3, 3.08). Nicasio went five innings in a 3-1 win over the Mets last week in Pittsburgh but is winless in five road starts this year. Colon is 4-2 with a 1.88 ERA - his lowest against any opponent - in eight career starts vs. the Pirates.