Francisco Lindor of the Mets reacts after hitting a two run...

Francisco Lindor of the Mets reacts after hitting a two run RBI single in the ninth inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on July 7, 2024 in Pittsburgh. Credit: Getty Images

PITTSBURGH — Stuck in a scoreless tie Sunday afternoon, nearing the end of a game that could almost be described as boring, the Mets started doing that thing they do: Making things interesting — wildly, dramatically, occasionally head-spinning-ly interesting.

They wound up beating the Pirates, 3-2, after an eventful last two innings that featured three go-ahead hits and a blown save each by Edwin Diaz and Aroldis Chapman.

Francisco Lindor came through with the game-winner, a two-out, two-run single in the top of the ninth. After losing the lead in the bottom of the eighth, Diaz rebounded by pitching a perfect ninth.

That got the Mets back to .500 at 44-44, with a chance to win the series Monday afternoon.

“It’s a beautiful thing about baseball,” said lefthander Sean Manaea, who threw six scoreless innings. “You can be on the edge of your seat the whole time. You can be down in the dumps, but then it can bring you back up. It was a lot going on, but that’s what makes this game.”

Setting up Lindor’s difference-maker: Jose Iglesias.

The Mets had put their first two runners on base against Chapman, Francisco Alvarez via an eight-pitch walk after getting down 0-and-2 and Harrison Bader via a single. Chapman answered by striking out Mark Vientos and Luis Torrens.

 

That brought up Iglesias, who fell behind 1-and-2. The Mets were down to their last strike with the potential tying run still at second base. Then he took ball two, fouled off a 101.5-mph sinker, took ball three and fouled off a 102.5-mph sinker. The count ran full.

Iglesias finally emerged victorious. Chapman missed low with one last triple-digit fastball to load the bases for Lindor, who yanked Chapman’s 35th pitch of the inning to leftfield.

Along the way, the 34-year-old Iglesias and the 36-year-old Chapman eyed each other and seemed to be enjoying the showdown, having met a decade and a half ago as young adults playing in Cuba’s professional league. They know each other “really well,” Iglesias said.

“He’s a brave man,” Lindor said of Iglesias. “He’s up there screaming and Chapman is staring at him, he’s staring at Chapman . . . There’s not too many guys who do that to Chapman. Especially when you’re 5-8 and he’s 6-5.

“But it was fantastic. It got me pumped. I think I even jumped. I was like, hell yeah, my turn. It was a great at-bat.”

Iglesias said: “Those are special moments for baseball. The result would’ve [gone] either way. It was just a good battle for the game.”

Chapman has a career 6.85 ERA against the Mets and a 2.46 ERA against everybody else.

“Huge team win,” Mendoza said. “The at-bats in the ninth — unbelievable. The key of the game was Iglesias’ walk.”

Still, the Mets had to survive the ninth with Diaz, who had been shaky when Mendoza asked him for a four-out save.

After the Mets scratched across the first run of the game in the top of the eighth — Brandon Nimmo doubled home Lindor — Dedniel Nunez made a bit of a mess in the bottom of the inning. So Mendoza called on Diaz, pitching for the second day in a row fresh off his sticky-stuff suspension, earlier than usual.

Diaz walked his first batter, Joshua Palacios, to load the bases. Nick Gonzales followed with a ground ball through the left side of the infield for a two-run single.

Diaz’s season totals: eight saves, five blown saves.

Mendoza decided immediately after the inning, though, that Diaz would remain on the mound if the Mets tied the score or went ahead against Pittsburgh (42-47). His reasoning was simple: He has brought Diaz in for four outs, so he would stick with him for four outs.

“He’s our closer. He’s our guy,” Mendoza said. “I’ve been saying it: For us to get where we want to get, we’re going to need him.”

Diaz retired the side in order to end the game. In his immediate celebration, he pointed to the Mets’ dugout — at nobody in particular, he said.

“[I was pointing] to everyone,” Diaz said. “To everyone. Because that’s a big win.”

ONE-DAY SALE26¢ for 5 6 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME