PITTSBURGH -- For a change, the hits kept falling for the New York Mets. For the Pittsburgh Pirates, nothing's changed -- it's another losing record, another bit of history.
David Wright and Jose Reyes each had three of the Mets' slump-ending 15 hits, Mike Pelfrey pitched eight innings and New York assured the Pirates of their record-extending 18th consecutive losing season, winning 7-2 on Friday night.Chris Carter homered and drove in two runs a night after the Mets managed three hits during a 3-2 loss in Houston. That performance led manager Jerry Manuel to call his offense "pathetic."Against the Pirates, the Mets had four consecutive two-out hits in the first inning alone, starting with Carter's pop-fly single to left field."You get those two-out RBIs, and it kind of flows through the lineup," Manuel said. "Hopefully we can continue to put together those kind of at-bats, those kind of games. We always had the faith we could do it."If the Mets were pathetic coming in, think how Manuel would feel managing the Pirates. Their 82nd loss in 122 games extended the longest streak of consecutive losing seasons in major American pro sports history.They'd never secured a losing season so early, either, accomplishing it on Aug. 20. Previously, the earliest they had done so during the streak was on Aug. 27, 2001."I don't like it -- nobody likes the record," said manager John Russell, who also sprinkled in a few saltier words. "We still have a lot of work to do. ... We all expect something better every year. Nobody wants to lose this many games."The Pirates, who fell behind 3-0 in the first and 5-1 in the third, are on pace to lose 109 games, only three off their modern-era record of 112 during a 154-game season in 1952. They've dropped 11 of 12, scoring more than two runs only twice in any of those defeats."We have our bright spots, but then some days we look like we don't belong on the field," losing pitcher Jeff Karstens said.Pelfrey (12-7) gave up Ryan Doumit's solo homer in the second and Andrew McCutchen's RBI single an inning later but otherwise had few problems with an offense that's performing even worse than New York's. Going into the game, the Mets had been held to three runs or fewer in 14 of 17 games.Pelfrey stayed in the game despite a queasy stomach, which erupted shortly after he warmed up before the game and didn't calm down until the fifth inning."When you're not feeling good you lower your expectations and focus on executing pitches, which is what I did well," he said.Pelfrey struck out five, walked two and gave up six hits and one earned run in his longest outing since pitching nine innings against the San Diego Padres on June 8.Karstens (2-10) couldn't make it out of the fourth while becoming the fourth Pirates starter to reach double-digit losses, joining Zach Duke (5-12), Paul Maholm (7-12) and Ross Ohlendorf (1-10). He gave up seven runs and 11 hits in 3 1/3 innings, with Carter, Ike Davis and Josh Thole driving in runs during the first.Carter, batting cleanup for only the third time all season, hit his third homer and first since June 13 at Baltimore to start the third. Thole later added his second run-scoring single."Jerry pulled me aside and said, 'I'm not putting you in the 4-hole because you're a slugger but because you're a great hitter,'" Carter said. "That kind of helped me relax. And that's probably why I did hit a home run."The Mets pushed it to 7-2 in the fourth. Reyes doubled and Angel Pagan and Carlos Beltran singled, with Pagan scoring when left fielder Jose Tabata threw wildly trying to get him at third.
The Mets must win once in the final two games for their first road series win in an NL city this season. ... The Pirates have never been more than seven games above .500 during any point of their 18-season losing streak. During that span, the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers -- who play only 1/10th as many games per season -- have done that four times. ... The Pirates have lost 60 of 82, the most losses they've had in a comparable span since 1953. ... The Mets stole two bases, giving them a league-high 110. ... Pittsburgh must finish 23-17 to dodge its first 100-loss season since 2001. ... The Pirates renewed their two-year working agreement with short-season Class A State College, Pa.