Struggling Mets rally in 8th to squeeze past Pirates

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Mets capitalized on Pittsburgh's
poor relief pitching and got a close call at the plate.

And when the game was over, even the lowly Pirates admitted they
weren't expecting many breaks against a first-place team.

Xavier Nady hit a go-ahead single in the eighth inning and drove
in three runs, rallying New York to a 7-6 victory Tuesday. Billy
Wagner earned his 300th save and Jose Reyes had three hits and two
stolen bases for the NL East-leading Mets, who won for only the
second time in eight games.

"To come back and win when we've been struggling, that shows
the character of this team. Never die, just keep playing," Wagner
said. "Right now, every game is a fight."

David Wright's two-run single put New York on the board.
All-Star Tom Glavine failed in his bid to become baseball's first
12-game winner, but his teammates fought back to take him off the
hook for what would have been his first loss since April 24 in San

"We haven't come back in a while, so it was nice to snatch one
away," Mets manager Willie Randolph said.

Blown out in their previous two games, the Mets trailed 6-4 in
the eighth when Carlos Delgado and Wright drew one-out walks from
Salomon Torres.

Endy Chavez, who replaced injured left fielder Cliff Floyd in
the sixth, came through with an RBI double down the left-field line
off ex-Met Roberto Hernandez (0-2).

Nady then grounded a single to right for his third hit. Nate
McLouth's strong throw beat Chavez home, but he slid feet-first to
the back of the plate and was called safe by umpire Angel Hernandez
on a very close play.

"It wasn't like it was a bang-bang play. He was waiting for
him," Roberto Hernandez said. "When you're 29-55 or whatever, the
benefit of the doubt is not going to be swinging on your side. It's
going to be swinging on the other side."

Pirates manager Jim Tracy rushed out of the dugout to argue with
Angel Hernandez. Tracy threw his cap to the ground near the plate
and was immediately ejected.

"Tough game to lose, obviously. We kind of helped the situation
along. The call at home plate, he looked very out to me," Tracy
said. "I saw the replay, he looks very out. He looks more out now
than he did before. I don't see how there's any way he could get
his foot in to get around the catcher."

Duaner Sanchez (5-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win and
Wagner got three outs for his 16th save in 20 chances this season,
delighting the Fourth of July crowd of 38,487 at Shea Stadium.

"Like Delgado told me, it means that I'm getting old," Wagner
said, referring to his milestone. "No, it's special. It means a
lot to me."

The last-place Pirates, who dropped to a major league-worst 9-32
on the road, went ahead 6-4 with three runs in the sixth -- helped
by Glavine's leadoff walk and fielding error.

Aaron Heilman walked in the tying run, Jason Bay hit an RBI
grounder and Freddy Sanchez followed with a two-out RBI single.

The Pirates have scored at least six runs in six straight games
for the first time since Sept. 2-8, 2000. Pittsburgh has 47 runs in
those six games after scoring only 46 in its previous 13.

"I think we've been playing better lately," Bay said. "It's
frustrating because we had the lead late. With Glavine going, we
know we're not going to put up a 10 spot. But to get six and then
to give it away at the end is very frustrating."

Glavine, who has won nine consecutive decisions, allowed five
runs -- three earned -- and a season-high 11 hits in five-plus

Pirates lefty Zach Duke gave up four runs and eight hits in 5
1/3 innings.

Freddy Sanchez doubled and scored on Craig Wilson's RBI single
in the second. Bay's two-out single in the third made it 2-0.

New York took the lead with four runs in the fourth, getting six
mostly soft hits. Wright bounced a two-run single up the middle,
Nady fisted an RBI single with two outs and Ramon Castro followed
with a run-scoring single.

"I felt like I threw consistently," Duke said. "What can you
do when the ball finds holes?"

Joe Randa's two-out RBI single in the fifth cut it to 4-3. Reyes
then tumbled over Floyd to catch Wilson's inning-ending popup, and
the big slugger got the worst of it.

He stayed on the ground for a few moments holding his head
before walking off the field slowly, squinting and touching his
eye. Floyd, who just came off the disabled list (sprained ankle)
Friday night, said he was dizzy but hopes to play Wednesday night.

Game notes
Torres leads major league relievers with 52 appearances.
After getting lifted in the eighth, he and Angel Hernandez
exchanged words. ... Wagner is the 20th pitcher to reach 300 saves.