Bats thump Bucs as Harvey finds groove

Bats thump Bucs as Harvey finds groove

PITTSBURGH -- Badly needing a strong start to get back on track, Matt Harvey delivered for the Mets. The right-hander shined over six innings, and Jay Bruce provided the power, in a 7-2 win over the Pirates on Sunday night at PNC Park to win the three-game series.

Harvey had not completed six innings in any of his previous five starts and ran himself into trouble with 21 walks during that stretch. But on Sunday, he held the Pirates to a season-low one run on six hits with four strikeouts and just two walks. His fastball touched 96 mph and his slider was effective, with five swings and misses on the pitch and another three called for strikes.

"Very encouraged," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "And we've been talking about it. He doesn't have to throw 97 to get people out. Tonight he showed that. He showed command of his stuff, best curveball I've seen in a year. I thought he mixed his pitches extremely well tonight. Very happy for him. This has got to be a huge boost to his confidence."

Bruce impresses all over diamond

Harvey's only run came on Gregory Polanco's second-inning homer -- Polanco's second in three games since being activated from the 10-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain. The Pirates tacked on one more run on David Freese's eighth-inning double, but they were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base.

Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for Bruce, Polanco and other #ASGWorthy players

Pirates starter Tyler Glasnow started off with three clean innings, and the game had the makings of a pitchers' duel. But in his second and third time through the order, the Mets went 7-for-14 against him with three extra-base hits.

Bruce led the way offensively with three hits, including a two-RBI double in the fifth. His first-inning double gave him 13 barrels in May, which is tied for second-most in baseball, according to Statcast™. Asdrubal Cabrera gave the Mets the lead with a two-out double off the center-field wall in the fourth, and Jose Reyes padded the lead in the fifth with a single and scored on Bruce's double. Lucas Duda capped off the scoring with a seventh-inning solo homer, his third in four games.

Cabrera's two-run double

"I know they are an aggressive-hitting team, and we got a scouting report going in that we just had to mix it up early with them," Glasnow said. "I did a decent job of that in the beginning. But later I was kind of leaving the fastball up, trying to get ahead. And losing all my angles and a little bit of velo there. Just throwing my strike early, they will hit it, especially if it's not a quality strike." More >>

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bailed out by strikeouts: Harvey ran into a pair of jams in the fourth and fifth innings after giving up back-to-back singles. After David Freese and Andrew McCutchen reached and advanced on a wild pitch, Harvey was able to strike out Francisco Cervelli on a high fastball and get Jordy Mercer looking on a fastball on the paint to preserve a three-run lead. He came back the next inning and got out of a two-on, two-out jam by getting a big whiff from Polanco on a low slider.

"Just focus on each pitch and do everything I could from basically scoring," Harvey said. "That was the biggest thing. I knew I had some tough hitters in there and I really had to bear down, and mechanically things were going pretty smoothly tonight and I was making pitches when I needed to." More >>

Harvey strikes out Mercer

Bruce almighty: Bruce had a big day with his bat, but he showed off his glove as well. With two outs in the sixth, Mercer launched a tough liner into the right-center gap, but Bruce was able to corral it with a slide for his second four-star catch of the season in five chances. Bruce covered 49 feet in 3.5 seconds, according to Statcast™, and the ball had a 41 percent catch probability.

QUOTABLE
"He was in a good place the week or 10 days before he was hurt. We've seen him hit the ball out of the ballpark before, so it's nothing new. He found some rhythm and rhyme before he got hurt. He worked extremely hard when he was able to start working in the batter's box when he was on the DL. He's put some good swings on the ball." -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle on Polanco

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Duda's seventh-inning homer had a 110.3 mph exit velocity, which was his hardest-hit homer of the season. This comes on the tails of his 451-foot homer on Saturday, which was his farthest home run of 2017.

Duda's solo homer

STOLEN BASE DROUGHT ENDS
Reyes' fifth-inning stolen base was the first against the Pirates in 98 innings. During that stretch, Pirates catchers caught speedsters Ender Inciarte and Odubel Herrera stealing. However, the Pirates entered Sunday tied for the third-worst caught-stealing percentage in baseball at 20.8 percent.

WHAT'S NEXT
Mets: Rookie right-hander Robert Gsellman gets the call as the Mets open a seven-game homestand Monday against the Brewers at 4:10 p.m. ET. The Brewers knocked around Gsellman for six runs (five earned) over four innings in their matchup on May 13. He gave up nine hits and walked three with three strikeouts.

Pirates: Right-hander Trevor Williams will make his fifth start of the season as the Pirates open a three-game series against the D-backs at 4:05 p.m. ET on Monday at PNC Park. He has a 6.27 ERA as a starter this season compared to a 5.40 mark in relief.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Pirates on Sunday.

Bob Cohn is a contributor to MLB.com based in Pittsburgh and covered the Mets on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.