- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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PITTSBURGH -- Pathetic. Embarrassing.
Take your pick.
And no, neither is a reference to the New York Mets this time.
A day after the Mets mustered three hits in Houston and manager Jerry Manuel labeled his team's hitting "pathetic," the Mets found a cure for their woes in the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In only his third career start as a cleanup hitter, Chris Carter homered, had two RBIs and scored twice. The Mets had their largest scoring output in more than three weeks in a 7-2 win against Pittsburgh on Friday night at PNC Park.
The Pirates suffered their 82nd loss, clinching an 18th straight losing season since the 1992 squad under Jim Leyland reached the National League Championship Series with a roster that included Barry Bonds, Andy Van Slyke and Doug Drabek. That's the longest streak in the history of any of the four major professional sports.
If Jon Niese can top James McDonald on Saturday, or if Johan Santana can top Zach Duke on Sunday, the Mets will win their first National League road series this season. The last team to go a full season without winning a road series in its league was the 1909 Washington Senators, who had a .209 overall winning percentage.
For a change, it was the opposing manager, not Manuel, who was getting skewered for a decision. (Actually, Manuel merely had to recant postgame. More later.)
A half-inning after the Mets knocked out ex-Yankee Jeff Karstens in a two-run fourth inning that built a 7-2 lead, the Pirates placed two runners in scoring position with two out against a nauseous Mike Pelfrey.
The PNC Park crowd -- normally passive, given it has been beaten down by losing season after losing season -- erupted in boos over the decision to allow the pitcher to hit, which felt like a signal the home team was conceding.
"You always feel like you get a break when that happens," Manuel said. "But that's their call. They know what they're doing over there with their players more than I know what they're doing. I think what happened is the guy put the ball in play pretty good, and Tejada made a great play. He made a tremendous play."
Manuel's bosses, meanwhile, had him doing a mea culpa. Manuel speculated pregame that Jason Bay, still getting headaches four weeks after suffering a concussion, would not be back this season. After chastising from the organization, Manuel amended his remarks postgame to leave open the possibility Bay could return -- however much of a long shot that is.
As for the Mets' seven-run, 15-hit night, Manuel said: "Hopefully it's a thing that we can continue to put together those kind of at-bats, those kind of games, and see where it takes us. We feel pretty good that we can do that. We always had the faith that we could do it. But it just never manifested itself until tonight."
Said Carter: "Position players and our hitters, we all know that we were not doing well. So today was a great day for us."
Regardless, perhaps the Mets should tread lightly with their Friday night success. It wasn't exactly a juggernaut in the home dugout.
Last June, after getting swept in Pittsburgh, Carlos Beltran said the Mets ought to be "embarrassed." That prompted then-Pirates first baseman Adam LaRoche to shoot back at Beltran: "I think it shows zero class and zero professionalism."
But then, Pirates president Frank Coonelly told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this week that the 2010 season "has been an embarrassment, to the city, to the Pittsburgh Pirates and to our fan base."
So maybe Beltran was correct then. And maybe the Mets shouldn't draw too many conclusions from Friday night.
LaRoche is now employed by the Arizona Diamondbacks and was unavailable for comment.
2dInterview by Buster Olney