PITTSBURGH — The Mets suffered a new worst loss of the season Saturday night.
They dropped another stunner to the Pirates, 9-7, after leading by six runs in the eighth inning. Seth Lugo (five runs) and Edwin Diaz (four runs) combined for the epic implosion.
In the bottom of the ninth, with the Mets an out away from winning, Jacob Stallings hit a walk-off grand slam against Diaz. The tall fly ball curled toward the foul pole but stayed fair. More than half of leftfielder Kevin Pillar ended up in the stands in his all-out effort to catch it.
It was the first home run allowed by Diaz since Aug. 30.
"I couldn’t believe it when it cleared the fence," said Diaz, who pointed to the sky when Stallings made contact as if to signal pop-up. "I thought it was a [flyout]. It kept carrying and he got the homer."
He later added, "It’s a tough loss. Everybody is shocked a little bit, even me. But we are a good team. We are a great team. We stay together every time."
The Mets looked as if they were on their way to a blowout win when they started to blow it. Lugo let the Pirates get close by allowing five runs in two-thirds of an inning in the eighth, a rally capped by pinch hitter Wilmer Difo’s three-run homer.
That blast came on a 2-and-0 changeup over the heart of the plate. Manager Luis Rojas said he didn’t like the pitch selection and would have preferred to see Lugo stick with his excellent curveball or a fastball.
"I made a few good pitches but ran into a bad count and threw a bad pitch," said Lugo, whose ERA jumped from 2.65 to 5.09. "You can’t do that at this level."
The Pirates scored nine runs in the final two frames. They entered the day averaging 3.55 runs per game — last in the majors, just behind the Mets (3.73).
The Mets (47-42) have lost four of six games to the Pirates (36-56). They will finish their seven consecutive games against each other, bookending the All-Star break, on Sunday.
"It’s a terrible feeling," J.D. Davis said three times. "But it’s only the second game of the second half. We gotta stay positive."
That ruined what had been a successful night for the Mets, especially Davis (two homers and four RBIs) and righthander Tylor Megill (six scoreless innings in the best start of his young major-league career).
In his first start since May 1, having returned from the injured list Friday after a long stay with a sprained left hand, Davis resumed his early-season success. In 16 games, he is hitting .413 with a 1.230 OPS.
"Same J.D.," Rojas said. "Looking for his pitch, finds his pitch, barrels it. Did an outstanding job. We need that offensive boost."
In addition to Saturday being the longest of Megill’s five starts by innings and pitches (93), it was the first time he didn’t allow a run. His ERA is 2.63.
He was in line for what would have been his first career win until the Mets’ bullpen melted down.
"Something like that happens," Megill said, "it definitely dampens the mood."