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Stallings slam in 9th off Díaz rallies Pirates past Mets 9-7

July 18, 2021 GMT
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Pittsburgh Pirates' Jacob Stallings (58) celebrates with teammates after hitting a walkoff grand slam off New York Mets relief pitcher Edwin Diaz during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Saturday, July 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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Pittsburgh Pirates' Jacob Stallings (58) celebrates with teammates after hitting a walkoff grand slam off New York Mets relief pitcher Edwin Diaz during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Saturday, July 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jacob Stallings hit a fly ball down the left field line and stood in the batter’s box. He was watching and hoping.

“I knew it had a chance because I got it in the air, but I didn’t know if I had enough of it,” the Pittsburgh Pirates’ catcher said. “I didn’t run because I figured he was either going to catch it or it was going to be a homer, so I just decided to stand there and watch.”

Stallings liked what he saw.

The ball sailed over the wall for a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning off closer Edwin Díaz that rallied the Pirates to a 9-7 victory over the stunned New York Mets on Saturday night.

“I couldn’t believe it when it cleared the fence,” Díaz said. “I thought it was a fly ball.”

Trailing 6-0, the Pirates scored all their runs in the final two innings – five in the eighth and four in the ninth.

Stallings got his sixth career game-ending RBI. It was the third walk-off slam at PNC Park, which opened in 2001. The others were by Brian Giles in ’01 and Rob Mackowiak in 2004.

“He was aggressive. He was ready to hit against a guy throwing 100 (mph),” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “I knew when he hit it he got enough of it, I just wasn’t sure if it was going to stay fair. That’s a heck of a comeback.”

J.D. Davis hit a pair of two-run homers for New York in his first start since coming off the 60-day injured list, and rookie starter Tylor Megill pitched six scoreless innings.

But it wasn’t enough on a miserable day for the Mets, who detailed injuries to star shortstop Francisco Lindor and ace Jacob deGrom before the game.

Lindor is out indefinitely with a strained oblique, and deGrom is sidelined with forearm tightness in the latest round of health setbacks for the NL East leaders.

New York dropped to 2-4 against the last-place Pirates over the past 10 days — including two blown saves by Díaz in games the Mets led by at least five runs.

This time, he was tagged for his third blown save in 21 chances this season after Seth Lugo gave up five runs in the eighth inning.

Down 7-5 in the ninth, the Pirates loaded the bases with one out as Ke’Bryan Hayes was hit by a pitch, Bryan Reynolds walked and John Nogowski hit an infield single.

Díaz (3-4) struck out Gregory Polanco looking on a full-count pitch. But then Stallings pulled his slam down the left field line beyond the outstretched glove of Kevin Pillar, who climbed over the wall in a desperate attempt to make the catch.

Díaz had not allowed a home run in 48 1/3 innings dating to last season, the longest active streak in the majors.

Mets manager Luis Rojas said he felt Díaz missed having Lindor on the field. The two have become close friends and Lindor often fires up Díaz when he gets into jams.

Nogowski, who got into a heated exchange with Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman the previous night, had three hits and is batting .514 (19 for 37) in nine games since being acquired from St Louis for cash.

Clay Holmes (1-1) got the win despite giving up a solo homer to Brandon Nimmo in the top of the ninth.

Davis finished with three hits. Michael Conforto had two doubles for the Mets, and Nimmo drew three walks.

Megill, seeking his first major league win, left with a 6-0 lead after scattering six hits. He had two strikeouts and no walks while throwing 93 pitches.

But the Pirates scored five times off Lugo in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Wilmer Difo capped the outburst with a three-run homer that made it 6-5.

“I always have my batting gloves on and always have a bat in my hand and ready to hit,” Difo said. “To hit a home run in that situation is an unbelievable feeling. If feels amazing to do that coming off the bench.”

Pittsburgh rookie Trevor Crowe allowed both of Davis’ homers as the Mets got four runs and six hits off him in 5 1/3 innings.

New York extended its lead to 6-0 in the seventh when rookie Travis Blankenhorn doubled home a run as a pinch-hitter and scored on Jeff McNeil’s single.

Nogowski started the Pirates’ comeback with an RBI double in the eighth.

HOME ON THE ROAD

Attendance was announced at 27,222, largest of the season at PNC Park. The crowd had a distinctively New York flavor, though.

The visitors were cheered loudly throughout the game and nearly the entire upper section of the left field bleachers was populated by Mets fans. There was also a large pocket of Mets supporters sitting behind the New York dugout.

REMEMBERING THE CHAMPS

Eleven players from the Pirates’ 1971 World Series championship club were honored during a pregame ceremony.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: Lindor was placed on the 10-day injured list and will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis after getting injured Friday night. Blankenhorn was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse, and Luis Guillorme started at shortstop. … DeGrom is day-to-day after feeling discomfort Friday while throwing a bullpen. An MRI showed no structural damage.

Pirates: Polanco (bilateral adductor strain) was activated from the 10-day IL and went 1 for 4. He had been out since July 6. INF Rodolfo Castro was optioned to Double-A Altoona. … LHP Steven Brault (left lat strain) made a rehab start for Triple-A Indianapolis and allowed one run in three innings with two strikeouts while throwing 28 of 37 pitches for strikes. He has been sidelined all season.

UP NEXT

Mets All-Star RHP Taijuan Walker (7-3, 2.50 ERA) opposes RHP JT Brubaker (4-9, 4.47) in the series finale Sunday. Brubaker has lost his last five decisions.

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