MLB: Back at .500, Mets continue pre-All-Star push vs. Pirates

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The New York Mets are creeping toward their goal of reaching the All-Star break on a high note.

After evening their record at 44-44, the Mets face the host Pittsburgh Pirates in the finale of a four-game series on Monday.

New York has won back-to-back games after losing the series opener 14-2 on Friday. After winning 5-2 on Saturday, the Mets rallied for a 3-2 victory on Sunday when Francisco Lindor singled in two runs with two outs in the ninth inning against Aroldis Chapman.

“It’s impactful because we’ve been on the other side, too,” New York manager Carlos Mendoza said. “You know and understand that, 162 (games), you’re going to win sometimes and lose some tough ones. And today, I’m glad we came out on a positive side. Again, the at-bats in the ninth — overall, a huge team win for us.”

The Mets are 5-5 so far during a stretch of 17 consecutive games with no days off before the All-Star break.

“Finding success, as the season’s gone along, I think it’s been really nice and I want to keep continuing that and helping this team win ballgames,” New York first baseman Pete Alonso said after the Mets’ win Sunday.

“I mean, we’ve come, collectively, such a long way to get back to .500 and I think this is a really good opportunity from today to keep moving forward in a positive manner.”

Chapman suffered his third blown save of the season while throwing 40 pitches in the decisive ninth inning.

“He got ahead in counts,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “He had (Francisco) Alvarez 0-2 to start the inning and walked him. He had (Jose) Iglesias 1-2. We were a pitch away from the game being over. Overall command of the fastball was the biggest thing.”

Pittsburgh has lost four of its past six games and struggled in the late innings without injured closer David Bednar, who is expected to begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Indianapolis this week.

Bednar has been out since June 23 with a left oblique strain.

Mets rookie Christian Scott (0-2, 4.32 ERA) and the Pirates’ Mitch Keller (9-5, 3.48) are scheduled to square off Monday in a battle of right-handers.

Scott, 25, returned to New York on Wednesday after spending a month at Triple-A Syracuse. He allowed four runs over 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Washington Nationals.

Scott, who posted a 3.90 ERA across his first five major league starts in May, threw 99 pitches in his return to the majors. He was pulled after giving up a three-run homer to Luis Garcia Jr. in the sixth inning.

Scott is set to make his first career appearance against Pittsburgh.

Keller, 28, is looking to bounce back after giving up six runs (five earned) over five innings in a 7-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday.

“He had trouble putting guys away,” Shelton said. “He gave up some hits with two outs, gave up the homers with two strikes. It looked like he missed in the middle of the plate with two strikes.”

Keller had gone 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA in his previous five starts.

Iglesias is 3-for-10 with a home run against Keller, who is 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA in three career starts versus the Mets.

–Field Level Media

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